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Ask a Foodie: Seasoning a Molcajete

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jean_victor_balin_toque1Q. I just got my first molcajete. Somebody said I had to season it. How do I that?

A. The molcajete is Mexico’s answer to the mortar and the tejolote is its pestle. Seasoning a new one is advisable, in case any rock should break off into your food. The best advice on how to do this comes from Marilyn Tausend in her book, “Cocina de la Familia”: The molcajete “should have the darkest possible color and very small pores. So as not to grind rock into your salsas, first put a handful of uncooked rice in the bowl and grind it to a powder with the tejolote. Rinse out the molcajete and repeat the process three or four times, until no grit can be seen mingling with the rice. Then it’s ready to use.”

Tausend goes on to give the following advice: “When making a salsa, always start with the most solid ingredients first, rotating the pestle until they are pulverised. Then add the softer ones and continue grinding until the mixture is of the desired consistency. The molcajete is also useful for grinding certain foods to a rough texture, such as the tougher-skinned dried chiles, fresh corn or meat.”

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