The Original Food Processor
When making pestos and other sauces, we often favor a mortar and pestle over a food processor. A mortar and pestle guarantees more control over how finely we crush the ingredients for the perfect texture and taste. Many cuisines have specific styles of mortars and pestles customized for their cuisines. One of our favorites is the Japanese suribachi, a ceramic mortar lined with fine grooves and ridges that grip ingredients when pounded with the pestle (known as a surikogi). This design is ideal for efficiently bruising herbs, mashing garlic, pulverizing nuts or grinding sesame seeds into paste. We especially love the version made by Motoshige. The surikogi is made from prickly ash, a soft wood that won’t dull the suribachi’s ridged surface, even with the most vigorous grinding. And a handy spout helps pour out particularly liquid mixtures. The set is available for $49.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so23-mortar.
For Better Naan, Press for Success
Across Pakistan, vendors bake tender-chewy naan in gas-fired tandoor ovens to accompany nearly every meal. Balls of the yeasted dough first are patted into rough rounds, then rolled thin. To prevent them from puffing up pita-like as they cook, bakers dimple them across their surface, using either their fingers or a perforated press called a naan sancha. This allows the dough to puff gently in the tiny gaps between the imprints, creating a pleasant mix of tender-crisp bread. Also sometimes called a naan stamp, the presses are available at https://tandoormaster.com/ for $26.
Perfect Persian Pilafs, Every Time
We’ll be the first to admit that tahdig, the traditional Persian rice dish with a crispy top, can be intimidating for many home cooks. The challenge lies not only in achieving both a moist, fluffy interior and a deeply browned crust, but also in the tricky flip needed to turn out the pilaf for serving—a delicate operation that can end in a mess. So we were thrilled to try the Pars Rice Cooker, a device designed to cook flawless tahdig at the touch of a button. Featuring a customizable timer and a nonstick pot, this easy-to-operate appliance takes all of the guesswork out of this Middle Eastern delicacy. Just add rice, water and spices, then let the Pars do the rest. Available for $74.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so23-rice.
Green Tea on Toast?
Matcha green tea is vibrantly green and full of complex nutty, vegetal notes, a flavor profile that works well beyond just a teacup—or a latte, for that matter. Made from powdered tea leaves, matcha has been used in Japan for centuries. In addition to beverages, it flavors anything from soba noodles to ice cream. We especially love Hotaru Foods’ Matcha Milk Jam, which combines matcha with milk jam (a thick, caramel-like mixture of slow-cooked dairy similar to dulce de leche) for a luxurious spread that balances nutty toffee sweetness with matcha’s signature bright, grassy notes, all while adding a beautiful pop of green. Spread the matcha milk jam on toast or drizzle it on ice cream, yogurt or a bowl of granola. Or even add it to baked goods (it makes a stellar doughnut filling). Available for $14.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so23-matcha.
The Caramelized Shallot Solution
Intensely savory caramelized shallots can transform a dish, but we rarely feel up to the fuss of mincing the tiny bulbs, then carefully cooking them until jammy and golden brown. Even when we do, we often get distracted and burn them! But Milk Street’s Premium Shallot Confit does the work for you. We simmer our shallots low and slow in two kinds of fat (olive oil and ghee), along with white wine, sherry vinegar and a special blend of spices. Straight from the jar, they’re ready to be used in any recipe that calls for cooked shallots. Try a spoonful in soups, stews and sauces, folded into grains or beans, spread inside grilled cheese and panini, smeared onto burgers or even dolloped onto pizza. Available for $15.95 at 177milkstreet.com/so23-confit.
A Bigger Knife for Better Mincing
The Turkish zirh may look more like a sword than a kitchen tool, but—as we learned on a trip to Istanbul—it turns out to be the secret to better kebabs. In Türkiye, chefs use these scimitar-like knives to finely chop ingredients. It’s especially good for mincing meat, offering greater precision than a food processor and creating texture far superior to store-bought ground meat (which tends to make for mealy, bland kebabs). The zirh may look unwieldy, but it is built to tackle these tough jobs quickly. Similar to rounded cleavers and mezzalunas, this knife’s curved, 3-inch-deep carbon steel blade is designed to be rocked back and forth through mounds of vegetables, meat or herbs—helping you achieve just the right texture in record time and with much less effort. Available for $59 at 177milkstreet.com/so23-knife.
Simple Cooking. Complex Flavor.
Simple doesn’t only mean easy. It also means something so perfectly constructed that every component is essential and balanced. This is particularly true of simple recipes, which should contain only what they need. And in our new book, Milk Street Simple, we’ve gathered our 200 best clever recipes that maximize flavor with an economy of ingredients and effort. As a sneak peek, we’re sharing our recipe for paella, streamlined for easy simplicity.