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nakji

Microwave Cooking

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I started to use my microwave for cooking more in Japan. It's quite a popular method there, as both gas and electricity rates are quite high. I used it frequently for re-heating, but I also used it for cooking. Harumi Kurihara has a great recipe for sesame chicken salad that has you nuke a boned chicken thigh along with some ginger, sesame oil, green onion tops, and shaosing rice wine. The thigh cooks quickly, and even better, the resulting broth from cooking goes into the salad dressing, yielding a really rich flavour. She also has a recipe for microwaving julienned carrots, then cooling them and tossing them with a mustard vinaigrette and canned tuna. It makes a great side salad for a light dinner. There's no reason to dirty a pot or pan boiling or sauteing the carrots, and the only added oil is that from the dressing.

I routinely microwave green vegetables like broccoli, and then toss with sesame dressing for a quick side dish for weekday meals. There has got to be more of out there using our microwaves for more than just reheating and making popcorn.

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Here are things I use the microwave for on a regular basis:

Poaching chicken

Cooking green veggies, esp. green beans

Baking potatoes

Making bacon

Boiling eggs

Cooking pasta (not often, but my stove takes FOREVER and a day to get to boiling)

Softening/melting butter

Melting chocolate

Popping popcorn (not always microwaveable packets - you can use regular corn in a paper bag)

Readying lemons for juicing (just pop them in for about 15 seconds before you cut them in half for reaming)

And I do my fair share of re-heating and cooking of frozen/pre-made dinners.


"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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I started to use my microwave for cooking more in Japan. It's quite a popular method there, as both gas and electricity rates are quite high. I used it frequently for re-heating, but I also used it for cooking. Harumi Kurihara has a great recipe for sesame chicken salad that has you nuke a boned chicken thigh along with some ginger, sesame oil, green onion tops, and shaosing rice wine. The thigh cooks quickly, and even better, the resulting broth from cooking goes into the salad dressing, yielding a really rich flavour. She also has a recipe for microwaving julienned carrots, then cooling them and tossing them with a mustard vinaigrette and canned tuna. It makes a great side salad for a light dinner. There's no reason to dirty a pot or pan boiling or sauteing the carrots, and the only added oil is that from the dressing.

The carrot-tuna 'salad' is a favorite for me as well. Most of the time my microwave is used to time other cooking, though.

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Boiling eggs

How do you boil eggs in the microwave? You should put them in a pan of water or is there a special technique? I've always heard if you put an egg in its shell in a microwave without piercing the shell it will explode.


I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Erin, I recommend Barbara Kafka's "Microwave Gourmet" written way back when she was "Vogue'"s food critic I believe. Micros were newish back then, and it's a very intensive look at the cooking possibilities of the new gizmo.

About the fish: fillets or small whole fish work, tho of course the timing will vary. A dish, covered with plastic wrap works fine, and papilottes would be fine too.

A tip I got from Kafka's book was Fast Stock. Put your water,bones, veg trimmings etc. in a roomy bowl, leaving lots of room on top. Cover, then nuke for, oh, a half hour. Strange benefit of this method: no scum. It's not as good as a long cooked lovingly skimmed stock, but the flavor is excellent and it's fast.


Margaret McArthur

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I use my microwave to make great pasta sauce using bacon mushrooms fresh cream and cheese, basically I nuke the mushrooms until they have released their liquid then add the bacon, nuke for another minute or so then add cream, cheese salt and pepper nuke for another few minutes until mixture thickens, by that time pasta has cooked so all I do is combine and eat...all done in the time it takes the pasta to boil. :biggrin:


Edited by GreekCook (log)

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Fish, steamed/baked.

Do you do this in a dish, or in paper packets....How? And are they filets, or whole fish?

Place fillets of Cod or similar fish in Pyrex dish (best if you use a dish the same size as the fillets arranged in one layer). Dot with butter. Season with Lemon Pepper OR lemon juice (or whatever). Cover tightly with cellophane. Microwave (just before service) until fish is opaque and flaky. Drizzle with Hollandaise sauce.

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Boiling eggs

How do you boil eggs in the microwave? You should put them in a pan of water or is there a special technique? I've always heard if you put an egg in its shell in a microwave without piercing the shell it will explode.

Yes, eggs microwaved in the shell without protection will explode. However, the method that works is equally terrifying, if non-risky. Wrap the eggs individually in aluminium foil. Submerge them in water (in an microwave-safe vessel), microwave on high until the water boils, and then on medium for another ~ 10 minutes.

The water keeps the foil from arcing, and the foil blocks the microwaves from the eggs, so you're effectively just using the microwave to boil the water that cooks the eggs.

I grew up with no stove and no oven, so I've cooked most things in a microwave (including bread and a whole turkey), but there isn't much that I currently prefer to microwave. Deep frying in a microwave would tend to create oil-geysers as small portions of the oil superheat - I wouldn't recommend it.

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Corn

Artichokes

Bacon

Fish

Melting chocolate and butter

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Many many moons ago, when I was a budding foodie just out of college, my more-advanced 20-something foodie roommate discovered a technique for cooking a live lobster in a microwave. You took the crockery insert to a crockpot, put about an inch of water in it, crammed the lobster in, put the crock-pot's heavy glass lid on top, slipped the whole contraption into the microwave, and nuked the sucker. You of course had to have a crockpot lid that was 100% microwave-safe materials (i.e. no metal rim like my current one) and a microwave big enough to hold the assemblage, but it worked like a charm.

No, I have no memory of where my roommate got this technique from. But it does underline that you can get away with adapting a lot of steam-cooking/simmering techniques to the nuker with a bit of ingenuity. And in the case of the lobster, the nuke technique had definite advantages over wrestling a huge pot of boiling water around in a miniscule urban apartment kitchen.

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Hi,

Marco Pierre White swears by bacon cooked in the microwave. Just heat on high for 2mins. That's your bacon sarnie sorted.

I've also just realised the benefits of making mashed potato with aid of the microwave. Whole potatoes cook in about 10 minutes. By not boiling them as normal, they don't become water-logged so, you can just add warm milk & butter and you've got great mash.

I read some of Herve This recently (highly recommended) and he was talking about the benefits of cooking in a microwave the fact that food cooks from the inside and liquid gets vapourised. To this end he suggests a 'Duck A L'Orange'recipe where you seal the duck breast in a hot pan and then inject it with grand marnier & orange juice mixture. Put it in the microwave and the duck then cooks inside infusing the meat with the liquid.

happy cooking

fergal

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I've also just realised the benefits of making mashed potato with aid of the microwave. Whole potatoes cook in about 10 minutes. By not boiling them as normal, they don't become water-logged so, you can just add warm milk & butter and you've got great mash.

Oh, wow, I was just thinking about trying this tonight as I was making dinner. The potato variety I can buy locally is really wet, and so I ended up with soggy mashed potatoes for my bangers and mash. I wondered about nuking them first to keep them drier than boiling, and lo, here you are recommending it. Do you keep the peel on?

Many many moons ago, when I was a budding foodie just out of college, my more-advanced 20-something foodie roommate discovered a technique for cooking a live lobster in a microwave.

This is thinking outside the box, indeed.

Place fillets of Cod or similar fish in Pyrex dish (best if you use a dish the same size as the fillets arranged in one layer). Dot with butter. Season with Lemon Pepper OR lemon juice (or whatever). Cover tightly with cellophane. Microwave (just before service) until fish is opaque and flaky. Drizzle with Hollandaise sauce.

Does this method work for fish on the bone as well?

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Thank goodness for all the wonderful replies to this post. Viewing cooking shows on TV, I had begun thinking that many people forgot that microwave ovens were invented to COOK food, not just reheat it. I rarely steam anything anymore, relying on the micro instead, and the only things I boil are pasta and making soup stock. Nothing works better for fresh veggies than the micro, with the exception of oven-roasting. Perhaps the plethora of steaming/boiling on the cooking shows stems from the cooking schools not realizing the potential of the micro and not teaching it to the future chefs, who then do many of the TV shows. Having learned how to properly use a micro back in the early seventies it is refreshing to see that we are not alone.

Ray

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Parenthetical pensee: I wonder if it's possible to deep fry in a microwave? Has anyone tried it?

To a limited extent, yes. I love making sage butter in the micro... and the sage leaves come out crispy fried. So it is possible to get things crispy fried out of the nuker.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Nothing works better for fresh veggies than the micro, with the exception of oven-roasting.

I have to second this. I've been especially happy with result from green vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus. I nuke them with my Japanese steamer cup, no water added, and they come out green and toothy every time. It's so easy, I don't mind doing it in the morning to include in my lunch box, and there's hardly and clean-up.

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I used to be of the mindset that if I saw a restaurant cooking with a microwave I would never go back. Now, I would never cook a protein in there aside from chicken I guess, but I definitely use it for things like veggies these days, and i've heard of putting foil on eggs for sure. I believe Wylie Dufresne did a whole seminar or something on using microwaves. Of course he mentioned eggs and veggies, talked about a few other things as well.

I actually keep a few vacuum packs of veggies like asparagus laying around, with a pad of butter or two, s+p, maybe a splash of wine, so when I need something, just pop it in and out, and there ya go, perfect veggies.

Always deserts too, like grand marnier, melted chocolate, and egg whites - makes a pretty intense brownie (which I just noticed is along the lines of Maggies suggestion! D'oh. Anyway, I still find this way a bit more chocolaty, just because there is less getting in the way - it's pretty much just the choco held together by the whites).

Now that people are looking at it as more than just the expensive popcorn maker, it's turning into a useful tool.


Edited by MattyC (log)

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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Making a roux (essential to cajun cooking) in the microwaveis easy, and it requires way less stirring that the stovetop method.

Crispy fried shallots (the kind used to garnish many Vietnamese foods) work well in the micro, too. Thinly slice peeled shallots, then toss with a little oil. Spread out on a pyrex pie plate in a single layer, and zap in 30-second increments until browned & crispy.

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Supposedly you can even make potato chips in the microwave. I haven't tried it but it seems plausible.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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Crispy fried shallots (the kind used to garnish many Vietnamese foods) work well in the micro, too. Thinly slice peeled shallots, then toss with a little oil. Spread out on a pyrex pie plate in a single layer, and zap in 30-second increments until browned & crispy.

Oh, wow, really? That's an excellent tip. I didn't think anything got really brown in the microwave, but the oil helps, I guess. That's so much better than standing over a frying pan for twenty minutes, trying to get a whole batch to cook down.

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Crispy fried shallots (the kind used to garnish many Vietnamese foods) work well in the micro, too. Thinly slice peeled shallots, then toss with a little oil. Spread out on a pyrex pie plate in a single layer, and zap in 30-second increments until browned & crispy.

Oh, wow, really? That's an excellent tip. I didn't think anything got really brown in the microwave, but the oil helps, I guess. That's so much better than standing over a frying pan for twenty minutes, trying to get a whole batch to cook down.

Yeah, it's an awesome tip! Will there be splatter though? Any point in clingwrapping the pie plate? I hate cleaning the micro

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