Tools of the Trade is a series in which we ask chefs, bartenders and other food folks which tools they simply can't live without. Today we talk to Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, chefs at La Castia Mexicana and the forthcoming Mexicano in Baldwin Hills.
If you've eaten at La Casita Mexicana, you know that something about the food there tastes different. The flavors are more distinct, everything tastes more cared-for. In the moles (best sampled on one of their "three moles" dishes), each ingredient shines to make a gratifying whole, and fish and meat dishes are cooked with delicacy and precision. With that in mind, we wondered what kitchen tools chefs Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu credit with giving them such fine results. Here are their top three tools.
"A tool made of carved wood that we use to froth chocolate for our Mexican hot chocolate. We prefer to mix it by hand, rather than with a blender, because it intensifies the flavor. Using a blender adds air, which causes the chocolate to lose its Mexican flavor."
2. Cuchara de Palo
"A Mexican wooden spoon we use to make our mole. The flavor of the mole can vary when you use a metal spoon."
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"A Mexican volcanic stone mortar, to make specific sauces and to mix the spices. Giving these ingredients direct contact with nature gives them a totally different flavor. Magic happens when you use your hands instead of electronic devices."