From Season 10: Classic Asian Appetizers
When it comes to crushing or grinding small amounts of food, many chefs swear by a mortar and pestle, which releases more oils than a food processor and is easier to clean. To determine the most useful size and shape, we chose large and small models made variously of porcelain, marble, cast iron, granite, and ceramic. In each, we crushed a tablespoon of toasted rice to the consistency of fine cornmeal as called for in our Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps, and also crushed whole peppercorns and tapioca.
We quickly learned that smaller models (with a capacity of less than 1 cup) are generally not the way to go. At best, testers used a minimum of 50 strokes to break down ingredients. At worst, we quit at 330 strokes, with the food still not finely ground. Their short, narrow pestles dug into our palms and let our knuckles knock against the mortar’s rim. Larger models that could hold about 3 cups and came with longer, more gently curved pestles did the same tasks in half the time and with far less effort.
Material made a big difference. Rough interiors helped trap and crush ingredients; smoother surfaces let the ingredients slide around under the pestle. Heft was useful too. Unfortunately, the former winner of this testing, the Fox Run Kitchens Iron Mortar and Pestle, has been discontinued.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.