Family Traditions: Memories of a Molcajete

October 5, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

Fresh salsa, made with a traditional Mexican molcajete, takes chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval back to his childhood.

A family tradition that I’m very proud of and I continue to use today is the way my grandmother used to make salsas in her house. She used what we call a molcajete (mortar and pestle). I still vividly remember sitting in the kitchen, and my grandmother would roast tomatillos, onions, garlic, jalapeños, and cilantro, then would slowly grind them together in the molcajete. The molcajete would then be brought to the table where our entire family was sitting. I’ll never forget the delicious aromas! We would use that homemade salsa for our tacos, queso fundido, or just about any meat or fish dish. She would also use that base salsa to make more varieties of fresh salsas—one of my favorites using chipotle.

To this day, I keep a molcajete at home and use it to make all my fresh salsas! Obviously, I can use a blender, but it doesn’t quite taste the same—or maybe the molcajete takes me back in time to my childhood and my grandmother’s house.

Richard Sandoval, chef and restaurateur, Richard Sandoval Hospitality. (Courtesy of Richard Sandoval)
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