|Found this picture from the internet. And yes, you can see how small the bowl actually is. It is more of a table grinder of sorts.|
A suribachi is a sturdy ceramic bowl that’s used with a grinding stick called a surikogi like a mortar and pestle. While I’m a big fan of handy electric equipment like food processors for many tasks, sometimes the results you get by doing things by hand are well worth the elbow grease needed.
What makes the suribachi unique, and I think better than a regular mortar, is that the inside is unglazed and grooved, as you can see from the photo.
The rough-surfaced grooves, which are called kushi no me since they are made with a comb-like device on the wet surface of the clay, help to mash and bruise whatever you are grinding a lot more efficiently than a smooth surface. It’s ideal for grinding up sesame seeds.
It’s also great for making things like peanut sauce. The final grinding in the suribachi seems to really bring out the oils in the nuts, making them so fragrant.
It can be used for grinding up spices too. The rough grooved surface can also be used for grating soft vegetables like potatoes, wasabi or horseradish root.