Cooking Tools & Equipment in a Mexican Kitchen
Mexican cooking doesn't requie a lot of special equipment, you'll generally have a lot of what is needed in your kitchen already - such as electric blenders, mixer, strainers and skillets. You do, however, need a few items to increase your efficiency and make the time spent in the kitchen more fun. Below are a few of the most common used items in a Mexican kitchen that you might not have at hand, yet.
Comal: A griddle basically, looks like a cast iron skillet but without the sides and with a handle. It is used dry, with no oil. A comal is essential for cooking tortillas and roasting ingredients that do not use oil. When a comal is not available, you can use a skillet or a flat griddle.
Juice presser: These are neat gadgets, make of cast iron with a cup to hold half a lime, orange or grapefruit, with a lever to press against the fruit to extract its juice, leaving the skin and seeds behind. Of course, a manual or electric juicer can also be used.
Molcajete and tejolote: Mortar and pestle, important for grinding herbs, seeds and spices. The bowl and grinder still in use all over Mexico goes back to ancient times as they are made from porous volcanic rock. The molcajete and tejolete need to be cured: first rinse well with water, no soap; with the pestle grind small amounts of rice several times until the resulting gray sand and grit is ground away. Rinse again and allow to air dry. Use to grind nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and to make salsa the ancient Mexican way.
Tamale steamer: Sold in Mexican markets or you can make your own. First, you need a large stockpot, the largest size you can find and fit a metal colander on the bottom. Generally, the bottom is filled to several inches of water and brought to a boil, then the colander is placed on top with a foil lining to prevent contact with the water and the tamales are placed on the colander. The tamales are covered with a clean kitchen towel, then the pot is tightly covered to trap the steam and to cook the tamales.
Rolling pin: If you want to try your hand at flour tortillas, you need to roll them with a pin. Practice does make that perfect circle, eventually.
Tortilla press: Utensil consisting of two hinged flat plates of metal or wood with a handle that is pressed to flatten a ball of dough for corn tortillas.