This sturdy stone Thai mortar and pestle (called Krok Hin in the Thai language) dates back to the Sukhothai period (the first Thai Kingdom founded in 1238) when it was one of the few cooking tools used to prepare meals. The Thai meal consisted of four basic food preparations, "Tom", "Yaang", "Jim" and "Yum". Translated, Tom (boiled foods) Jim (dips), Yaang (grilled) and Yum (salads). As with most other cultures the mortar was used to grind foods as well as medicines.
When we look at the key flavoring ingredients used in Thai cooking, fresh basil, palm sugar, makrut lime leaf, garlic, fresh ginger and galingal, tamarind, lemon grass as well as a variety of chilies, coriander and cumin we can see why the use of the mortar and pestle is key in the preparation of this cuisine.
This product is a very good all-around mortar and pestle and you need not limit it's use to Thai or Asian cooking. It works well to make pestos and sauces or any ground mixture.
To use, place the substance to be ground inside the mortar (bowl). Pound the firmer ingredients with an up and down motion. Grind using a circular motion when adding finer or liquid ingredients.
The basic concept with using a mortar and pestle to to add a single ingredient at a time and one ingredient builds on the other forming an eventual well-integrated mixture. The grinding process releases the oils, and flavor essence of the substance. When done carefully you will produce a product that is more flavorful than a product prepared in a food processor.
Note: Even the smaller version of this mortar and pestle can be very heavy. Make sure to use it on a sturdy surface and one that can withstand the stress of heavy pounding.
This is going to depend on how much cooking you do, the types of foods you like to prepare, and how much you can lift! There are many small grinding jobs in day to day cooking like a bit of garlic, chills, a small handful of herbs. The small version is very good. It is lighter to deal with when you need to move and clean it.
The larger sizes function well for making sauces, pesto, pastes or any mixture in larger quantities. The large size gives you some "elbow" room when working. It also gives you a good work-out moving it around. In most case you don't need to be lifting it a lot although you may need to take to the sink for cleaning.
Depending on your culinary budget, space and uses you may prefer a small (6") and a medium-large (7 - 7.5"). If you are a pro, or an aspiring pro, you will want either the 8" large or the 9" extra-large version.
Weight - These mortars are heavy, well balanced and quite suitable for a lot of pounding and grinding. The weight of the pestle assists you with your work.
Composition - The stone is very nonporous which means it won't tend to absorb flavors and odors (unlike a molcajete where the flavor absorption is an asset) and it is quite smooth inside and very easy to clean.