Yes, you can use the microwave for cooking! You can cook a whole potato, steam vegetables, and even “bake” a cake easily in the microwave oven.
But we bet that almost all microwave oven owners only use it to either to reheat leftover food or to defrost frozen food. And that just makes the microwave oven one of the most underestimated appliances in the kitchen!
Did you know that you can use it for more than just those mundane tasks? It’s actually quite fast if you know how it works and how to use it to your advantage.
Here’s how it works: the microwave heats things up by making food molecules vibrate very quickly. Since the food molecules are moving really fast, friction builds up and so, the food heats up, too. The molecules in liquids are easier to agitate and that’s why water or some other liquid is added to help the food cook in the microwave oven. If not water, a fat like butter or oil will likewise help as well as keeping the food from becoming dry, a common result in many microwaved food. This is how bacon with its layers of fat cooks and how cake batters with butter or oil bake in the microwave.
While you can’t really fry food in the microwave, it’s a fantastic appliance to use for steaming food. Just remember to use a container with a lid and to not lock the lid, but rather, just lightly cover it. This way, any steam that builds up will not make the lid pop off.
But you’ll still need to add water to prevent the food, especially vegetables and meats, from drying out as it cooks. Put the food, say a potato or a chicken breast, in a microwave-safe bowl with water that reaches a quarter of the way up and cover with a wet paper towel or a lid. Microwave for 3 minutes, turning the food halfway through for the most even cooking. Cook an additional minute or two if needed until tender or cooked through. Add more minutes if you’re cooking mulitple items.
You can do this with almost any vegetable that benefits from steaming: asparagus, string beans, camote, carrots, corn on the cob, and frozen mixed vegetables, green peas and corn. A minute at the most is best to prevent over cooking. Fish, chicken and yes, even thinly-sliced pork can be steamed in the same manner without toughening. Just remember to add water and watch those minutes.
Now that you know how a microwave cooks your food, you can now easily cook and even bake in the microwave oven with confidence.