Well, I think it's my turn to embark on an ethnic cooking adventure of my own. For my destination I'm heading to Mexico...here's why: Mexican food is delicious and I have a Mexican mother-in-law who's an amazing cook so I'd love to be able to recreate (or at least attempt to recreate) some of my husband's favorite dishes. (I could get all political and make some comment about the stupid immigration law passed in Arizona and how cooking Mexican food is a minor form of civil disobedience, but that's sort of silly...just like the misguided right-wingers in Arizona!)
Anyway...to get myself started, I went out over the weekend and bought a tortilla press and a molcajete. I'll get to making actually food soon enough, but for now, I am in the process of seasoning my molcajete.
So what the hell is a molcajete anyway? Click here for the full wiki on it, but basically it's a Mexican mortar and pestle. It's made of either basalt or volcanic material and is used for making guacamole, salsa, etc.
Like a cast iron skillet, it's important to season a molcajete. Here are the steps to do so:
- Soak the molcajete and tejolote by submerging it in water for 2 to 4 hours. At this point, brush/scrub the surface of the molcajete. When I did this, the water in my sink turned gray and small, sandy particles came off it. The molcajete went from gray to dark, almost blackish gray.
- Let the molcajete air dry. As it dries out, you can see the color go back to it's original gray hue.
- When it's perfectly dry, grind a handful of wet, white rice in the bowl. At first, the rice will take on a gray, gritty hue. Dump the rice, add more and grind, and repeat this process over and over again until the rice no longer turns gray (this could take some time!). Clean out the rice and let the molcajete dry again.
- You don't have to do this part, but you can throw some rock salt into the bowl and grind it down so it resembles table salt. Dump it out and do this a few times to shine and smooth the bowl. Clean out the salt.
- Throw a few cloves of garlic, some cumin, and salt and pepper into the bowl of your molcajete. Mash everything together to season the entire bowl. Wipe out any large, obvious chunks of garlic and viola! Your molcajete is ready to go.