Best material for mortar and pestle?
Experienced dismal failure using a wooden mortar and pestle to grind fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic etc. into a paste for dry rub. Fennel seeds in particular would not yield. What's the best material/brand for this handsome, Slow Foodish kitchen tool?
Stone as well... The wood has too much 'give'. The marble too smooth so things go flying everywhere (Don't ever try to grind coriander or any round spice in a marble mortar!!). I adore my Molcajete.
Sadly, a good Molcajete is hard to find these days. They are made with lava rock, which has huge pits and breaks down too easy. Even the ones at Crate and Barrel which look promising on their website had big pits... Bad for grinding, bad for sanitation!! :P
I got mine at a Mexican Supermarket. It was the only one with a smooth solid surface and it seasoned beautifuly. I get no stone or grit at all! The thing is, it's not pretty. It's a big bowl of rock, but for what it does, I'll take it...
I have 3: the largest Thai granite mortar and pestle that I could find is my main workhorse for not only Thai preps but a lot of other cusines as well. This one is indispensible. Very smooth and non-porous interior. I just picked up a large Lao clay mortar and wooden pestle for Som Tum and I'm not sure what else. I have had a small white porcelain lab m & p for years that I use for very small quantities of spices etc.
I picked up an amazing one - also amazing cheap and amazingly heavy - in our local Little India.
If you have any Indian stores near you, I would check there.
Stone / Granite all the way.
I have a marble one with ridges inside that I bought at Bridge Kitchenware (they have a website) - I love it, and far better than the Dominican wood one that my husband held onto for years.