Mexico’s most patriotic month of the year has started. So it’s time to dust off your big ‘Sombrero’, take out the tequila and get ready Mexico’s Independence Day on September 15th. But before you start gulping down those shots of tequila, you should have at least a solid base of home-made Mexican food in your stomach. You know…. Just in case!
When you walk into a kitchen in Mexico, you will find several cooking tools that might look unfamiliar to you. However to make the best Mexican food, you need the best tools. To help you figure out what to use, here’s an easy guide from the Dancing Chefs:
We’re going to start off easy. If you have been at Salsa and Salsa, you have hands-on experience with the Mexican mortar. It’s made from lava stone or clay and it is used to grind spices and ingredients to make Salsa!
You might have seen this utensil in hole-in-the-wall restaurants. It’s a round baking sheet or griddle, made of stoneware or iron. The Comal is heated on the stove top or directly on a fire to bake or reheat tortillas. It’s quite an art to bake tortillas and not burn your fingers when you have to turn them over! If you can’t find a Comal, you can use a dry skillet instead.
This traditional earthenware casserole only has been glazed on the inside. The Cazuela is perfect to make Moles and stews, because it heats evenly and stay warm for a long time. When you buy a new Cazuela you have to make it ready for use. To do this, rub the inside with a fresh clove of garlic, fill the cazuela with cold water and leave to boil dry. Repeat this process several times and then rinse with some water and soap.
The name of this tool literally means ‘hand mill’. It is a wooden, carved whisk to make hot chocolate. Mexican chocolate is a mixture of ground cocoa, sugar and cinnamon, pressed together into chocolate bars. The loose wooden rings at the top make sure that the hot chocolate become nice and foamy. To use the Molinillo you have to hold it between two hands and twist back and forth to make the whisk movement.
Metate y Mano:
This ancient tool is made of lava stone and has a wide rolling pin, with which you grind corn, chilies, cocoa beans and other ingredients. Indigenous chefs kneel on the ground,
true to tradition and roll the round Mano over the Metate. The ground ingredients are collected on the lower end of the Metate.