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What foods can I prepare in the microwave? | Food

What kitchen tasks are microwaves useful for?
Mark, Durham

Microwaves typically cost 8p a day to use, compared to 87p for an electric cooker, according to recent research by energy company Utilita, so you’re wise Mark to use yours in these tough times.

Besides defrosting, reheating and melting things like butter and chocolate, you can also cook vegetables in one. “It’s my favorite method,” says chef Tim Anderson, whose latest book, JapanEasy Bowls & Bento, came out in October: “You retain the flavor, color, texture and can fine-tune the cooking to the nearest second. .” Not everything works out, but he’s had more hits than misses. “Green vegetables like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, snap peas and spinach are fantastic in the microwave,” he says. Ben Tish, chef director of the Cubitt House group in London, agrees: “Put leafy greens [kale or cavolo nero, say] in a bowl with a little water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, minced garlic and a good amount of extra virgin olive oil. Cover and cook over high heat until wilted for “delicious ‘braised’ Italian greens” [that are] as good as the traditional method.

You also get good results with eggplant. Anderson cuts his own into quarters, then softens them in the microwave for two to three minutes, to make mapo eggplant, a Japanese version of Sichuan. mapo tofu. Convenient, the rest of the dish can also be made in the microwave: zap the mince, lightly covered, for a few minutes, add pieces of softened aubergine, peppers, leeks and oil, mix and put in the microwave -waves. Pour over a sauce – “garlic, ginger, doubanjiang, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sake, red miso, ketchup, that sort of thing” – stir and give it another blast. “You end up with this delicious dish of melting, spicy and sweet eggplant.”

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The benefits of a jacket or a sweet potato are undeniable, and a microwave speeds things up nicely. “People always talk about how you can’t beat them in the oven, but the oven takes years and [uses] lots of energy,” says Melissa Thompson, author of Motherland, published this month. She starts her sweet potatoes in the microwave: “It doesn’t take long, maybe 10 minutes, then finish them in a very hot oven or a hot air fryer, which is energy efficient. »

Also on the substantial side, rice (like a risotto, for example, or with chicken), fish like poached salmon in sauce, white fish in foil (in paper) or fried eggs (American chef and founder of Momofuko, David Chang, greases a bowl, salts it and cooks it at 30% for 90 seconds). Then there’s the pasta, which Anderson craved during the heat wave. To avoid “pumping steam into the kitchen”, he experimented by microwave cooking yellow peppers, olive oil, garlic, olives, salt and pepper for six or seven minutes, until tender. He added canned chickpeas, warmed them up, then blended it all together and combined it with pasta (also microwaved): “It’s never going to be the best pasta you’ve ever had, but it was efficient and easy.”

The same goes for microwave cakes, adds Thompson. “Kids are always impressed.” You don’t need a lot of ingredients either: “A little flour, butter, sugar, eggs, maybe chocolate, mix, microwave for a minute and a half, and you get something that looks like cake. “And, sometimes, that’s just what you need.