Best kitchen gadget: pestle and mortar
Saturday 14 November 2009
My favourite utensil or tool in the kitchen is the pestle and mortar. To achieve the best results when cooking means making the most of what nature has to offer – so ideally you want to be using the freshest ingredients and only using powdered ingredients as a last resort.
The power of the pestle and mortar lies in its ability to release the flavour of some of nature's most aromatic offerings. It is the perfect tool for creating sauces when you need a particularly smooth blend of aromas. I like taking a stroll down to my favourite local Brixton market and picking out exciting and flavourful herbs and spices that will unlock the tastes of the exotic in my recipes; my number-one favourite is the allspice berry!
To make the most of your pestle and mortar, you need to apply strong, consistent pressure, and although porcelain ones also work well, I prefer wooden ones because they feel natural in the grip of my hand and remind me of the kind of utensils we would use back at home in Jamaica. With wood being a porous material, good care and hygiene is essential. I look after mine by gently cleaning it with warm, soapy water; then I let it air-dry naturally to remove residual scents and any damp, as it is really important to make sure your kit is completely dry before use.
A good pestle and mortar is a cook's best friend and mine takes pride of place on the serving counter of my eatery Papine Jerk in Battersea!
Mixer-blender Though not quite as natural as the pestle and mortar, a good-quality mixer-blender will do a fine job of crushing and blending your fresh ingredients and is the next best thing if you don't have your manual kit to hand!
Scales Cooking is all about balance and a good pair of scales is a kitchen must-have to ensure you are using the right amount of ingredients.
Mixing bowl Some recipes require that you get stuck in the old-fashioned way! In which case, I like getting to work on my ingredients in a good-sized mixing bowl.
Levi Roots' Papine Jerk is at 8 Lavender Rd, London SW11, 0871 9716247; reggae-reggae.co.uk
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