The molcajete was used to prepare food for more than 7 thousand years.
The most representative sauces of Mexican gastronomy are prepared in a traditional way in the molcajete. Sauces made in the stone mortar are said to taste better than when ground in a blender, as well as when ingredients are roasted instead of boiled.
Why do grandmothers and those of us who have tried a molcajete sauce perceive a better flavor?
The aroma and flavor of the sauce made in molcajete may be more prominent than that of those made in the blender due to the perfect integration of its ingredients, especially grains and spices.
Also, the porous or volcanic stone with which the molcajete is made gives some mineral flavor to the sauces.
“The sauces have an unbeatable flavor when they are molcajeteados, the ingredients release all their essences and oils, mixing with each other, unlike the blender that only turns, for example, the tomato seeds without incorporating them”, explains the chemical engineer Jaime Ortega Zaldivar, who organized the first Festival of Chiles, Sauces, and Molcajetes in Mexico City with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
The molcajete has been used to prepare food since pre-Hispanic times. Its name comes from Nahuatl words “mollicaxtli” and “temolcaxitl”, which means bowl for sauce or stone bowl for mole. It has three legs and its stone stump is called “texolotl”, “hand” or “pylon”.
Historians claim that grinding instruments, such as the molcajete and the metate, appeared between 7000 and 5000 years BC They were used to grind corn and seeds.
In the molcajete they made different sauces, hot and non-hot, in addition to the chili with tomato, others with ingredients such as peanuts mixed with spices, onion, and cocoa.
Before use, the molcajetes must be so that they detach possible weak parts of the surface. To do this, Jaime Ortega recommends grinding grains or seeds that release their oils.
The making a molcajete requires between three and four hours of tilling to acquire its characteristic form. They are made in volcanic or basalt stone, rounding the stone with percussion, and always polishing it with a hammer and chisel. Although their use has decreased, these pieces are still made in some Mexican states such as Jalisco, Puebla, Michoacán, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and the State of Mexico.
So you know the secret, the flavor of a sauce is not only in its ingredients but also in its preparation. It can be fried, raw, roasted, chopped, or ground. When the ingredients of a sauce were roasted, it will have a smoky flavor unlike when they are boiled; If it is done in the molcajete, the seeds and spices can be crushed and better integrated, releasing their essences more.
Traditional Molcajete Sauce Recipe
- ½ kg of roasted ripe tomato
- 2 green serrano peppers roasted
- ½ quarter of a roasted white onion
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roasted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Chop the tomatoes, chiles, onion, and garlic.
- Integrate the ingredients in the molcajete, starting with the garlic, onion, and salt.
- Adjust salt and serve hot or cold.
- If you don’t have molcajete or mortar, blend for a few seconds until all the ingredients are just crushed. The texture of the sauce is not fully liquefied.