Thai Mortar and Pestle (Stone, Granite)

thai mortar and pestle

Brief History of the Thai Granite Mortar and Pestle

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.

How To Use The Thai Mortar

thai stone mortar with pestleThis 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.

Mortar Sizes

This is an overview of the average sizes, weights and uses of the Thai mortar and pestle. It is not uncommon for the size to vary from shipment to shipment and certainly from one vendor to another. Just as with any other hand made product of this type, like a molcajete, anticipate some variance, your 7" may be 6.75 or 7.25! ( Color will vary slightly from very dark green to a slightly lighter green.
Size Weight (Avg) Capacity Uses
6" 7lb 1 + cup Nuts, seeds, chills, herbs
7 - 7.5" 16 2 + cups Curries, pastes, sauces, pestos
8 18lb 3 + cups Curries, pastes, sauces, pestos
9" 24lb 5 - 6 + cups Curries, pastes, sauces, pestos

Selecting The Right Size Mortar

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.

General Advantages Of The Granite Mortar

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.

About Where They Come From

Obviously the mortars come from Thailand. They are not a massed produced product (although they are a very important "cottage" industry). Many families make them in their houses after the crops have been harvested. This gives the people work and income during their 'off' season.

Caring For Your Thai Mortar

This mortar has is very non-porous and is easy to maintain. Simple sit the mortar and pestle in the sink and rinse it with warm water. You can use detergent if you wish but make sure to use a non-perfumed version to avoid any scents being transferred to your foods. 

Where To Buy

This mortar & pestle is available at GourmetSleuth.com. Our medium size Thai stone mortar has a 7" bowl and an 7" pestle and holds about 2 cups. Other sizes available include 6", 8" and 9"

author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.