Saturday, June 09, 2012
Using a Mortar and Pestle
There are two functions you can perform with a mortar and pestle: Pounding, and grinding. Most people only try to use them for pounding, when most of the time they should be grinding. Pounding is for reducing soft foods to a paste, as with breaking down meat fibers, or making pesto or other mayonnaise-type emulsions. To make pesto, start with the pine nuts, pound them to a paste, add the basil, pound that, and then slowly add the olive oil, continuing to pound away. You don't use the pestle like a hammer. You let the weight of the pestle do the work. That's why you need a pestle with some heft to it.
If you don't have an Ikea or a good Mexican grocery near you, you can find some decent mortars here at Amazon.