Japan Perfected the Mortar and Pestle With the Suribachi and Surikogi by Eater

The ridges in a suribachi, a Japanese mortar, help crush ingredients without bruising them, keep ingredients in the bowl, and yield a pleasantly toothsome textures.When I first got my suribachi and surikogi, I was nervous. Growing up, neither of my parents used any kind of mortar and pestle regularly, so I had no idea how to use the ceramic bowl with its intricate ridges and carved wooden muddler. But, in an effort to connect with my heritage and challenge myself to cook recipes that require more technique, I turned to the centuries-old duo as an adult. I now use them almost every day.

Nearly every culture has its own take on the mortar and pestle, built with materials found naturally in their backyards (whether that’s wood, marble, or volcanic rock), and optimized for the traditional local cuisine. The Japanese suribachi, though, is a composite of multiple cultures. The basic form was introduced to Japanese cooks and medicinal practitioners by Chinese traders sometime in the 11th century. It came along with traditional Kampo medicine, and Buddhist monks may have originally used the mortars and pestles to grind up herbal remedies. Then in the 16th century, following the Japanese invasion of Korea, Korean methods began to inform Japanese ceramics, leading to the typical suribachi style: glazed on the outside, but unglazed on the inside. That origin story lingers in some modern uses for the tools, like grinding sesame seeds (Japan ranks as the second-largest importer of sesame seeds in the world, just after China), which spread to Japan from India along with Buddhism, and were used for both medicinal properties and spiritual significance.

Read the full article on Eater.


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