The Molcajete Is The Ultimate Latin Cooking Tool: Here’s How To Use It

I can bear in mind from a really younger age watching my father use a speckled stone bowl to grind spices, garlic and chiles right into a aromatic oblivion. I’d relish within the nuanced and daring tastes of the salsas and pastes that he would concoct utilizing probably the most fundamental elements, following the identical steps my grandmother used when creating dishes for the household after lengthy days within the fields as a migrant farmworker.

It wasn’t till I used to be older that I noticed not each household in my neighborhood had a molcajete: a easy but exceptional culinary instrument. A instrument endowed with historical traditions and the power to extract a depth of taste from one thing as ubiquitous as a store-bought tomato.

Ignacio M Sánchez Prado, a professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Washington University, advised HuffPost that “the molcajete is a tool that traces back to Pre-Columbian times. Its name comes from náhuatl (a group of Uto-Aztec languages) and is used to grind powders and, primarily, salsas. It represents, for me, a long-standing history of culinary practices, tied to the artisanal craft of cooking and the persistence of indigenous knowledge in modern Mexico.”

It’s fairly extraordinary that the seemingly antiquated molcajete hasn’t been changed by fashionable kitchen home equipment. Prado defined that this might be as a result of the metallic blades of a blender or meals processor merely don’t have the identical impact as hand-grinding seeds, chiles or herbs.


″[A molcajete] infuses a mineral taste to salsas that’s absent from the blender and merges flavors however retains the id of the elements alive,” Prado stated. “You also have more control of texture and when making spice pastes, it integrates the ingredients in a way that favors flavor.”

Jose Garces, an Ecuadorian American restaurant proprietor and Iron Chef, advised HuffPost that he likes to make use of a molcajete to make “salsa macha, which is made with a combination of chiles, garlic, nuts and seeds that are fried in oil. I take the fried bits and aromatics and use the molcajete to grind them down into a usable paste that can serve as the base for a salsa.”

The makings of a typical salsa roja that my father prepares. Once finished, we eat the salsa right out of the molcajete.The makings of a typical salsa roja that my father prepares. Once completed, we eat the salsa proper out of the molcajete.

Not to be confused with clean mortar and pestles constructed from marble or American concrete replicas, a standard molcajete is chiseled from a particular form of basalt stone which is textured sufficient to launch oils from the elements and porous sufficient to carry onto flavors with every use.


“The most important aspect of a good molcajete is the material and craftsmanship. It really needs to be made of volcanic rock, preferably by an artisan who uses the old ways,” Garces stated.

According to Mexican chef Alfredo Oropeza, these “old ways” can take “more than 8 hours of work that involves the artisans going to the mountain to bring the volcanic stone to the workshop.”

Oropeza defined that “part of the magic and tradition of a molcajete is that before using it, you must ‘cure’ or clean it,” which you’ll accomplish in just a few methods: “Some like to cover it with garlic, there are others that cover the little cracks by grinding rice into the basin, and others place the molcajete inside the oven at medium temperature for 20 minutes,” Oropeza stated.

Just how lengthy can a molcajete final? According to Laura G Gutiérrez, an writer and affiliate professor within the Department of Mexican American and Latin Studies on the University of Texas, “forever.”


“It can easily outlive several blenders in one’s kitchen. In fact, most molcajetes outlive their owner’s life and usually get passed down to the next generation,” Gutiérrez stated.

Aside from its flavor-enhancing skills and spectacular longevity, Garces advised HuffPost {that a} molcajete is, in some ways, a cloth illustration of tradition and the myriad situations through which Mexican delicacies has influenced its environment and introduced individuals collectively.

“Mexican cooking, with its festive and bright nature, really exemplifies the beauty in celebrating with friends and family. The cuisine, like the culture, has many layers of elements and complexity, that adds depth to the rich culinary traditions of the United States,” Garces stated.

My grandmother handed away two years in the past, and her molcajete, almost clean after a long time’ price of meals, is a tangible reminder of the recollections she left behind and an extension of the wealthy culinary traditions Garces talked about. If you additionally wish to share on this particular side of Mexican tradition, maintain studying to see just a few genuine molcajetes that may aid you start your personal household traditions.

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A standard-shaped molcajete

Get this traditional pig-shaped molcajete from World MarketGet this conventional pig-shaped molcajete from World Market

True to custom, this molcajete is hand-chiseled to resemble a pig and has a flat tejolete pestle, perfect for grinding spices and different elements. Made in Mexico utilizing a single piece of lava stone and measuring simply over 10 inches throughout and nearly 5 inches deep, this sturdy and time-honored design is nice for prepping and serving genuine Mexican dishes.

Get it from World Market for $34.99.

An genuine mid-range choice

Get this <a href=genuine hand carved molcajete from Etsy" width="720" height="405" class="lazyload" data-sizes="auto" data-srcset=" 75w, 100w, 150w, 240w, 320w, 500w, 640w, 800w, 1024w, 1280w, 1600w" data-src=""/>

This real molcajete is hand carved from the pure stones of the Popocatepetl Volcano, situated simply 45 miles south east of Mexico City. The ergonomically designed pestle replicates that of Mexican culinary custom, and the bowl measures 8.5 inches throughout and 5 inches tall.

Get it from ThreadsWestDesigns at Etsy for $49.99.

A one-of-a-kind choice made by Mexican artisans

Get this <a href=genuine molcajete made from an extinct volcanic rock on Etsy." width="720" height="405" class="lazyload" data-sizes="auto" data-srcset=" 75w, 100w, 150w, 240w, 320w, 500w, 640w, 800w, 1024w, 1280w, 1600w" data-src=""/>

Crafted from 100% pure stone extracted from a now-extinct volcano, this molcajete is a real illustration of Mexican historical past and craftsmanship, originating in Michoacán, western Mexico. The bowl measures 8-inches large and 3-inches deep, and the advantageous end makes it straightforward to treatment and retain taste. Each molcajete bought helps help a neighborhood artisan neighborhood in Michoacán whereas additionally preserving a centuries’ previous custom.

Because this can be a one-of a form piece, there is just one obtainable. However, you may store similar molcajetes from this vendor on Etsy.

Get it from Mechuacan at Etsy for $119.

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