Almost every city has plenty of options for Mexican food, but there’s nothing like finding a truly authentic spot. A genuine Mexican dining experience starts not just in the kitchen, but with the tools that are used in that kitchen. Whether you’re setting up a kitchen in a Mexican restaurant or you just want to bring a Mexican kitchen to your home, here’s a look at some of the basic tools you’ll need to make it truly authentic.
Commonly known as a “mortar and pestle” in the United States, one of the most basic tools in a Mexican’s restaurant’s repertoire is the molcajete. This stone tool is used to grind and pulverize, meaning you’ll use it to grind spices, and to prepare salsa and guacamole. The rough surface of the bowl area is perfect for grinding, and actually replenishes itself the more you use it. A new molcajete will need to be broken in, but that’s easily done by grinding some white rice until you no longer see pieces of basalt.
Machacador de Frijoles
Once you translate this tool’s name, it’s pretty obvious what its job is. Machacador de frijoles literally translates to “bean masher.” You’ll need this tool if you want refried beans done the right way. When using this tool, you’ll want to press down in a circular motion, and move in a circle all around the pan. This will provide the smooth texture that so many people look for in this dish. While traditional machacadores de frijoles from years ago had wooden handles with metal mashing apparatuses, most now are metal throughout.
A comal is a small, flat griddle used to toast tortillas and spices, sear meat, or prepare beans, tomatoes and peppers. Usually made of cast iron or steel, a comal fits over a single burner on a stove, but can also be used over an open flame or in the oven. While many dishes prepared in small pans like this require moving the food inside, you don’t want to move a comal when using it. Like the molcajete, you will want to season it before its first use. Wash your comal with warm water and soap, rinse it well, and coat it with vegetable oil on the inside. Place the empty comal in an oven (around 350 degrees) for an hour. Remove the comal, wipe it clean, then let it cool, reapply oil, and bake for another hour. After this, your comal is ready to use.
While there are plenty of other tools used in a Mexican restaurant, these three will get you a long way. Almost any Mexican dish can be prepared using these tools, and those you serve the food to will be satisfied with the results. Find out here about Mexican restaurants in your area for more ideas.