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Bok Bok: My Favorite Thai Kitchen Tool


Bok, bok, bok!

I love the sound my red wooden mortar and pestle (krog saak) makes as I smash garlic and chiles while breathing in their intoxicating aroma.

In Thailand, many times they call things by the sound they make: which is why the word that describes the krog saak crushing action is “bok bok.”

This little handy tool is like an old school food processor. You can find granite, glazed terracotta, or wooden ones. Thai cooks use it to make chili pastes, smash garlic, toasted rice, chile, papaya, etc.

I love how my steady rhythmic beats transform the ingredients or release their juices. It is a beautiful thing to use the power of your own hands in cooking and  is why my krog saak is my favorite kitchen tool.

I was squatting in our kitchen floor going bok bok as I crushed garlic for pad see ew, when Dom walked in and giggled at me.

“Legit!! You are so legit!” he said—one of his new favorite words since I taught him what it meant.

Then he ran to get his camera to take a picture of me doing just what I saw his grandma do in Sukhothai, and my Thai friends do in their kitchens. I’m pregnant by the way, which according to Dom and my friends is supposed to make it even more legit and hardcore that I still can bok bok as a pregnant mama.

If you want to be a legit Thai cook, I suggest going to an Asian market and purchasing your own krog saak so you too can learn the joys of bok bok.



  • Heidi

    Tell Dom that I said that’s an EXCELLENT use of the word “legit” – especially considering he only learned it recently! 🙂

    • Sherri Phengchard

      Haha!! I will let him know. He will be proud 🙂

  • Dwight Turner (@DwightTurner)

    Haha. You guys should get the Peruvian version installed in the house. Or speaking of big rocks, just get Dom to use his biceps to crush those chilies.

    When are your writing a guest recipe for us? Would love to feature you two, a bit of your story together and of course some tasty things you’re making.

    Talk soon.

    • Sherri Phengchard

      Haha! Dom could totally crush them with his biceps! I’ll let him do that next time. I would LOVE to write a guest recipe for you all! Can’t wait! 🙂

  • Kathy

    I love my bok bok!!!!

    • Sherri Pengjad

      I feel the same way! I can’t wait to get a stone one though because mine is wooden.