In an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – where he visits struggling restaurants and turns them into successful ones – he’s put in front of a rag-tag team of cooks who are willing to do anything BUT cook.
Instead, they employ the help of industry veteran Chef Mike – a microwave that does the majority of the food-making at this establishment. Of course, Gordon orders Chef Mike to be binned (literally); but we think Gordon may have been a bit harsh to what was then the kitchen’s hardest worker.
Microwaves shouldn’t be used to cook ALL your meals, but when used correctly, they can definitely do some of the cooking for you at home.
Don’t fear the machine, we want to embrace what it was made to do and more; so here are some great ways to use your microwave to create quick meals in a jiffy.
Parboiling means boiling something until it’s partially cooked and soft on the inside. You can then cook the item all the way through by frying, grilling, or roasting for contrasting textures and colour.
To parboil using a microwave, we’re going to use potatoes as an example. Simply prick a few holes in your spuds to let steam out, then place them in the microwave on high setting for about 3 to 4 minutes. Poke the taters with a fork or chopstick to check if it’s soft enough. You can also do the same with Brussels sprouts, beans, and even meat. When the insides are cooked enough, just throw them on a hot pan to help your food develop colour.
2. Defrosting Meat
Letting meat come to room temperature is essential if you’re planning to fry them – that’s because you want the skin to form a delicious crust while cooking the middle just right so it remains juicy. But leaving meat on the countertop or in a bowl of water takes way too long if you’re short on time.
A simple alternative is to put it in the microwave for anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes to quicken the process. If your device comes with a defrosting option built in, go ahead and use that. Check the instruction manual for the recommended time.
Just be sure to clean your microwave thoroughly after using it to avoid cross-contamination!
3. Make Fruit Juices Easier
When taking out your citrusy fruits, such as lime, lemons, and oranges, don’t squeeze them immediately. You’re going to have sore forearms the next day! Instead, microwave your fruits for a quick 20 seconds and you’ll notice that they’re now much easier to squeeze.
Remember not to leave your fruits in for too long otherwise, they might pop and leave a mess in your microwave.
4. A Quick Dessert
Everyone’s got room in their bellies for dessert, but not everyone has the time to make them.
Luckily, there’s one dessert you can make in a cup! Mix the ingredients listed below in your favourite, microwaveable mug:
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the mixture in your microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds and voila! You now have a decadent dessert to devour any time of the day.
5. Roasting Garlic
Roasted garlic can go on anything savoury – need garlic bread to scoop heaps of creamy mushroom soup? Well, roasting garlic in the microwave takes just eight minutes. All you need to do is chop off the head of a whole bulb of garlic, place it in a microwave-safe tray or ramekin, then add water until the bottom half of the garlic is submerged. Drizzle some olive oil on the exposed portion of the garlic to prevent it from drying out, then place it in your microwave for 8 minutes.
To make the garlic bread spread, squeeze the now softened garlic into a bowl, and mash it with some butter, grated parmesan, and diced parsley until all the ingredients become a delicious paste.
Things to Avoid When Using Your Microwave
Now, this goes without saying, but never place metal items (including aluminium foil!) in your microwave – instead, opt to use items made of ceramics, wax paper, wood, or glass.
Single-use containers or styrofoam boxes are also not supposed to be microwaved. When heated to high temperatures, these materials leak harmful materials into your food. You can opt instead to use plastic containers that have a clear PP 5 grading marked on the bottom.
Now you know the do’s and don’ts of using your microwave, you’ll be cooking up quick, but delicious meals for days!