Kitchen Tips

Preparing the Mortar and Pestle for use

Using traditional tools in your kitchen can help add a fun spin to your cooking. The mortar and pestle can be used to add a bit of creativity in the kitchen. Also, pounding herbs and spices instead of dicing them, helps break down them down better for stronger flavours and finer textures.

The mortar is a bowl with round insides, typically made of hard wood, ceramic, glazed terracotta or stone. The pestle is a heavy club-shaped object, the end of which is used for crushing and grinding. In Asia, the typical mortar and pestle are made of stone or clay, and should be conditioned before usage. Below is a general guide to preparing a stone pestle and mortar for use.

Using and Caring for your Asian Mortar and Pestle
Image Courtesy: Tony Alter used under the Creative Commons Licence

Thai cuisine demands perfection, and for this purpose, the best granite model to get is the Thai model. Its heft makes the crushing process a breeze and its matte surface makes cleaning so much easier. It has a broad base, which is best suited for grinding.

Making sure your tools are well cared for is essential. Preparing the mortar and pestle for use is important. Here are some kitchen pointers:

1. Pre-treatment

A brand new mortar and pestle pair must first be pre-treated before using. Soak them in a large bucket of water overnight, to help remove any residues. After that, they should be processed using some sandpaper.  Even the outsides of the mortar and pestle should be sanded.

2. Pound wet-dry spices

Gently pound some wet-dry spices (a few cloves of peeled garlic) to form a thick paste. Spread the paste evenly and leave them in the mortar for an hour before rinsing it off in lukewarm water and mild soap.

3. Wash your tools

Wash both the tools with water and mild soap. Let them dry naturally.

4. Powder the rice

Pour a handful of rice grains into the mortar and crush it using the pestle until it’s turned into fine powder or paste. Now throw it away as it contains gritty bits from the bowl and is grayish in colour. Repeat this process until the rice powder is pure white.

5. Rinse the tools

Add some coarse salt and grind it as fine as possible. Next, add some white and black peppercorns and start grinding until they crack and turn into fine powder.

6. Wash and rinse

Finally, wash it off with water, dry it and pack it up in a plastic bag for future use.

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