Everything You Need To Know About Using A Microwave Oven

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Using the microwave oven is the smart way to easily soften butter, gently melt chocolate, reheat leftovers without drying it out, and it's faster than a kettle in heating water to boiling.           

The microwave however can be used for more than just a few mundane tasks. It can be used to create full meals that can surprise you and your taste buds with just how well it can achieve a place in your kitchen as essential kitchen equipment. 

You need to give the microwave a chance to accomplish its full potential as an appliance that you'll grow to use regularly. To do that, you need to learn how to make it into a better tool than just another box taking up precious kitchen countertop real estate. Here's your guide on how to use your microwave to its useful potential: 

Use your favorite fish for this sinigang but the tilapia is a great affordable option.
Photo by Majoy Siason

1 Make recipes that do not need to brown or crisp. 

The microwave will never replace your oven or your stove for that matter when it comes to cooking food that needs to brown and be crispy. You need better equipment than those you can use in the microwave to accomplish that task. 

While you can cook bacon which can be browned and crisped in the microwave, it's trickier with whole cuts of meat or even dishes that use pork and beef which need to be tenderized. To gradually make you more confident in your cooking abilities using the microwave, we suggest recipes and dishes that don't require any tenderizing nor turning golden brown and crispy.

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This requirement is full of possibilities! Soups and stews like sinigang, tinola, afritada, menudo, and even adobo are prime recipe options for cooking in the microwave. These are made easier by changing the meat into quick-cooking fish and chicken and not cuts of meat that need to be tenderized. These dishes are best cooked on the stove.   

A kitchen timer can tell you to take the pot off the heat.
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2 Cook food in it for the minimum amount of time.

You should cook your food just until it's cooked through. This is to avoid overcooking your food which you can easy to do in an appliance as powerful as the microwave. Carryover cooking, or the cooking that happens even after the food is off direct heat, will still take effect and can lead to overcooking. To prevent that, cook your food just shy of being done and let carryover cooking finish it off.  


Remember: You can always cook it for additional minutes if it's not yet done, but you do want to ensure that you don't overcook it. There's no going back once it's overdone.  

Photo by Patrick Martires

3 Learn to cook food at 100% as well as 50% power. 

There are basically two main functions on a basic microwave: the timer and the power function. While you can cook everything at full power or 100% every time, you should learn to also cook at less than that or even at half power. This will give you the versatility to not only gradually melt chocolate without scorching it, but it will also give you the chance to cook food more gently and slowly allowing the food to not be so aggressively cooked. Cooking at a lower power is the same as slow cooking, but with speedier results.


4 Add more fat or liquid. 

If you do try a recipe that isn't for the microwave, take a look at the fat content or the water content. You will need to cook or bake your food with additional liquid or fat, which can be in the form of butter, oil, juice, milk, or even just plain water. This is because microwaves work best with ingredients that are liquid rather than solid food. That's how a microwave works and this is what will prevent your food from either becoming too dry or hard as a rock. 


5 Always use microwave-safe containers. 

As with any appliance, it's good to always practice safety measures. With a microwave, always use containers, dinnerware, glassware, and even plasticware that are microwave safe. Not all containers or dishes have labels that state that it's microwave safe or not. If you're not sure, you can test it out


Feel free to fiddle around and take advantage of the preset settings, too. Once you learn what you can do with the microwave, you can heat things up perfectly or cook food better than you thought you could.   



Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here!

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