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monkey2000

Comal de barro

27 posts in this topic

I'm hoping someone out there can help me.

I desperately need to purchase a comal de barro, the traditional Mexican clay griddle, but am having little success in my search. Most places appear to carry the cast iron type of comal only. Does anyone know of a source I might try in the US?

Thanks in advance.


"Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam; spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam. "

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Is this what you are seeking?

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Nuestra Tierra has a few in red clay from Oaxaca and the black chamba that we've discussed over and over.

They stink for heating tortillas but are great for eveything else.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Thanks, guys. I saw the one on gourmet sleuth earlier and was not sure if there is a substantial difference between Mexican and Salvadoran comales.


"Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam; spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam. "

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I have several neighbors who are from Mexico. They all use cast iron or heavy steel comals.

I have a very old soapstone comal that one brought me from Mexico but she said that few people use them now as they prefer the metal and most aren't even flat but are shaped like a wide, shallow dish as they put them over a fire in a cut down 55 gallon drum and use them for blistering chiles as well as cooking tortillas. If you ever happened to see Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feinneger's show about one of their trips to Mexico, you could see one of these in use.

My next door neighbor has one that is simply rectangular, a thick slab of black steel that fits on one of his barbecues - they use it all the time for cooking big batches of tortillas. (They are from Durango, Mexico and still own a ranch there and go back several times a year.)

The red clay comals sold in many Mexican tourist places are not for cooking - they are really for decoration only and made for the tourist trade.

I don't know anything about the ones from El Salvador as I don't really know anyone from there personally.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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The red clay comals sold in many Mexican tourist places are not for cooking - they are really for decoration only and made for the tourist trade.

I'm not sure which comales you are referring to but the whole line of red Oaxacan earthenware is designed for cooking. They are unglazed and beautiful. And particular to Oaxaca.

I think most modern cooks prefer the metals because they don't break.

I don't know anything about the ones from El Salvador as I don't really know anyone from there personally.

The chamba has been discussed a lot here on eG. It's great stuff.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Black Chamba in action here. That is for braising, though. If you look at the saute pans on that site, they might be pressed into service as a comal. I guess I am wondering why anyone would want to use a clay comal, unless you are trying to duplicate ancient cooking methods (pre-iron age).


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Nuestra Tierra has a proper black chamba comal, featured here. (Oops! Am I plugging my online store?!)

It's like cooking in a pot. The unglazed earth and your food belong together. Maybe something inexplicable happens or maybe it's all sentimentality, but I'm buying what they're selling. I believe the earth adds flavor.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I just asked my neighbor Joe Obregon why they preferred the metal comal and he said it heated faster, didn't break and was much larger, as the clay comals are too small for a big family and his wife did not want to spend all day in the kitchen.

He said the only people still using the clay comals in his area of Mexico are Americans and poor people who can't afford the iron ones.

The soapstone one they found for me was made in Taxco sometime before 1932 which was when his aunt got it.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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He said the only people still using the clay comals in his area of Mexico are Americans and poor people who can't afford the iron ones. 

Well, hey! I'm an American, so no wonder I'm enjoying mine!


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Interesting, isn't it, how it makes no difference what country or type of cooking one discusses....the personal tastes in cooking vessels vary. There never is a consensus.

I don't claim to be an expert, but I have traveled extensively throughout Mexico for the last four decades and although it's true many of the upwardly mobile folks eschew the old ways (and not just in cooking utensils), it's been my experience that most experts seem much to prefer the cooking properties of the original clay comales. And I agree with Rancho that they impart a wonderful, earthy, smoky flavor that the metal ones just don't.

Of course, I currently have a soulless, long, oblong metal one because it fits over two burners on my electric stove. Also, I've had to haul it around with me, and the clay ones become more fragile with age. So if someone saw me standing there, cooking with my metal comal, they might even think I prefer it. They'd be wrong.

Sadly, when it comes to clay vs metal, the inferior product is the quicker, the handier, and the more convenient. So it becomes more popular. While the superior product slowly becomes the province of grandmas. And, of course, food hobbyists that are willing to seek out and preserve the original. And best.

But while I'm cooking on my modern metal comal, in my heart I'll always be searing my chiles atop hot, fired clay dug from the earth of Mexico.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Nuestra Tierra has a proper black chamba comal, featured here. (Oops! Am I plugging my online store?!)

It's like cooking in a pot. The unglazed earth and your food belong together. Maybe something inexplicable happens or maybe it's all sentimentality, but I'm buying what they're selling. I believe the earth adds flavor.

Point made. I agree with you and Jaymes about the flavor addition of clay. I still fondly remember the big clay jar of water in that very hot shop in northern Mexico. That was the most delicious water, and very cold from the evaporation through the clay. I didn't see the comal on the nuestra Tierra site. Now I want. :sad:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Fifi: your memory of the delicious cold water from a clay jar reminded me that the Turks make an unusual salt clay jar to keep water.

As far as I know it is only in Turkey that these jars are produced with a large amount of salt. The high level of evaporation causes the jars to act like refrigerators, and the water is kept cool and sweet tasting thoughout an entire summer.

If I understand it correctly, water stored in an ordinary claypot might stay fresh and sweet for a few days, while water stored in a salted clay jar can be kept without any deterioration of quality for a few years.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I didn't see the comal on the nuestra Tierra site. Now I want.  :sad:

I think she had plenty of black. The red were only 8 and I bought 4 (for insurance!). Email or call her and I bet she can get you one.

I haven't used the black much but the red is charred and worn and delicious. You can smell it when the heat is on and it's empty. I like to add a spoonful of oil and a handful of raw pumkin seeds and toast them with my little hand broom-thing until they pop. Toss some salt and you've got a snack. They heat up very quickly on low. I haven't bothered with a heat diffuser (I have 3 more!) although I do use them with my pots.

FWIW, the red comal is 12" across.

I think I read somewhere that you need to make a thin paste with cal in order to heat tortillas. Each time! I still have my well-loved metal one for that.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Actually, I do have a clay comal. I attended a cooking class with Susana Trilling, and that's what she recommended, and what she uses at her school in Oaxaca.

But I can't use it on the electric stove that I am currently chained to.

I was thinking perhaps I could buy one of those metal rings that Asian stores sell to put under woks on electric stoves.

I very much prefer the clay comal, and wonder if that would work. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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It wasn't my intention to imply that the clay comal was inferior, only that SOME of the ones being produced nowadays are not meant for real use in the kitchen but are produced strictly for the tourist trade, just as are jugs, bowls, plates, mugs and many have been made with clay or with glazes that are not safe for food because much of it has a high lead content.

I doubt that would be a problem in an unglazed comal but one has to know what one is buying.

The Mexican people that I count as good friends like to do some things in the traditional manner but they are touchy about being thought to be uneducated, primitive or unsophisticated. Many of my friends have lived in places frequented by tourists and ex-pats looking for "native artifacts" and understandably feel insulted if these strangers imply that they are inferior in any way. They want modern conveniences the same as we do.

One of my Mexican friends owns three mines where Mexican fire opal is mined. He also owns a clay mine and the clay contains a lot of mica and the resulting pottery is exceptionally beautiful. Years ago he used to sell all of his clay to local potters but most of them have moved away or no longer do the work so now the raw clay is crated up and shipped to the U.S. and some to Europe. He has no market for his product in Mexico, which is sad, because this clay would make beautiful and very strong cooking vessels, including comals.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Elevating the comal above the coil is certainly a move in the right direction. Given that the ring isn't expensive I think it is worth a try.

On the water jars, with the salt clay, does the water get salty? I can see how the salt in the clay would inhibit bacterial growth but I am wondering about the water.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Jaymes, I think if you went to a metalshop and described the size of your burner, they could bend a piece of bar or rod for next to nothing to fit around the burners. Find an old shop with scrap in quantity, and chances are you get it for free. The reason I say a ring of metal is that it seems to me as if the Chinese ring would keep the comal kind of high and precariously balanced, might unneccessarily weaken your comal, and use more energy to get a stable heat.

If I still had my shop, my solution for you would be a very simple box made of 1/2" expanded metal, simply bent over, and not even requiring any welds. Just smoothed so it wouldn't scratch.

Then you could use the box for charring chiles, etc.


Edited by Mabelline (log)

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Jaymes, I think if you went to a metalshop and described the size of your burner, they could bend a piece of bar or rod for next to nothing to fit around the burners. Find an old shop with scrap in quantity, and chances are you get it for free. The reason I say a ring of metal is that it seems to me as if the Chinese ring would keep the comal kind of high and precariously balanced, might unneccessarily weaken your comal, and use more energy to get a stable heat.

If I still had my shop, my solution for you would be a very simple box made of 1/2" expanded metal, simply bent over, and not even requiring any welds. Just smoothed so it wouldn't scratch.

Then you could use the box for charring chiles, etc.

Miss Mabel....you NEVER cease to amaze me. Never. :wub:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Wow! Look at the discussion this sparked!

We use comales de barro at Oyamel www.oyamel.com to make our tortillas. Its something of a draw for the diners. They enjoy sitting at the taco bar and watching several cooks making tortillas by hand using traditional comales over fire. The taco bar itself is our mod version of a traditional Mexican kitchen. We do this every day, all day long, with no serious problems.

Thanks for all the advice and insight!


"Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam; spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam. "

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harina or maiz?Maiz is my absolute favorite, unless it's the old-fashioned Sonoran harina cartwheels, made with lard. But hey, anything fresh is good, no?

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Maiz! You have to check them out and tell us what you think next time you are in DC! (I do agree with you that really good flour tortilla can totally kick ass too.)


"Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam; spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam. "

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I may get to take you up on that kind offer if a Congressional hearing panel about a certain Native American problem does come into accuality. Then it'd probably be a "tribal tort-out".

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