A traditional Mexican salsa is made with roasted tomatoes, chilies, garlic and onions.
Rather than using a blender, the roasted ingredients are smashed together in a molcajete or mortar and pestle.
The earthy texture created by the Molcajete is quite distinctive, and due to the seasoning of the Molcajete, it will carry a subtle difference in taste which can’t be duplicated in a blender.
Molcajete salsa has a more smoky flavor and is deliciously yummy to serve with many favorite Mexican dishes.
It’s particularly amazing with grilled meats such as carne asada or this Beef Steak Fajitas.
What is a Molcajete?
A Molcajete is a Mexican mortar hand carved from a single block of basalt volcanic rock by artisans who for generations have kept this Mexican tradition.
The use of the Molcajete dates back several thousand years, and was used by the Aztecs and Mayans.
Making it one of the world’s oldest kitchen tools.
Today the Molcajete can be found in the kitchen of just about ever home throughout Mexico.
Seasoning Your Molcajete For First Time Use
Before using the first time, a Molcajete should be “broken into” to make sure that there are no small grains of rock that can become loose when used for the first time.
You do this by grinding a handful of raw rice several times in the bowl of the Molcajete with the tejolete using the rice as an abrasive agent to grind the surface of the bowl smooth. Keep grinding the rice until it becomes grey from the rock “dust”.
Empty the bowl, and keep repeating the process with new rice until the rice no longer turns grey.
Although a laborious process, once done, you will never have to do it again.
Some rice flour will remain ground into the surface of the rock, but this does not create any problems.
As with cast iron skillets, Molcajetes with use become “seasoned”, carrying flavors from one preparation to another.
The more you use your Molcajete, the more seasoned it will become.
You can jump start the process by seasoning the bowl prior to actually preparing your first recipe.
You can do this by grinding several cloves of garlic along with some kosher salt, cumin seeds, and some cilantro sprigs.
Let this paste sit overnight so the Molcajete can absorb the flavors. Wash as above, and you are ready for you first recipe (Source: Ancient Cookware).
6 small tomatoes (about 1½ lb.), cored, halved
½ small onion, peeled, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 small jalapeños, stems removed
You can either roast the ingredients on a bbq, using a skillet (In Mexico it is called a Comal), on the stovetop, or under the broiler.
Heat broiler. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeños in a roasting pan or on a large rimmed baking sheet and broil until charred on top, about 4 minutes.
Remove from broiler and turn vegetables over. Broil until other sides are charred, about 5 minutes. (Watch the garlic carefully and remove earlier if needed.)
Transfer vegetables to a molcajete and mash into a coarse purée. Season salsa with salt.
Enjoy your irresistible Molcajete Salsa that is an iconic part of Oaxacan, Mexican cooking.
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