by hand, by designDo you have a tool in the kitchen that is simple yet so elegant in design and function that you have no intention of upgrading it or replacing it? No chance of donating it next time the spring cleaning purge hits your pantry? Yet it has a humble appearance, no fancy electronic cleverness, no colour of the year trendiness.

I have several. Some are as old as my cooking skills, some almost ancient. The one pictured above is one of several examples I have of the suribachi. My first one was quite small, with a delicate little pouring spout, about 3-4 inches diameter with a lovely deep charcoal grey reduction glaze on the outside. It is perfect for preparing a small amount of salad dressing, or grinding spices or seeds. When it developed an internal crack, I had to retire it, but unwilling to part, it sits awaiting my pique-assiette hopes. I have remaining several brown glazed ones, most often using the 5″ one pictured above.

Yesterday I used it to blend some toasted lemon zest with sea salt and brown sugar before trying Kim Beaulieu’s fun Aerosmith potatoes.

I use slightly larger versions for grinding dry peppers and mixed herbs, or even for sesame seeds, which is poetically the traditional use, with all the ridged lines helping reduce the seeds to the correct fine grind.

Using this with a wooden pestle (surikogi), the unglazed grinding surface remains undamaged by wear. More importantly to me, the calm and controlled process of using these, often holding the suribachi in one hand and the pestle in the other, is a quiet, silent meditation that is part of how cooking can help keep you present and engaged in creating flavours and a meal, and maybe a bit of calm.

What tools do you use that keep you hands-on in your cooking and creating?