10 Foods Even Professional Chefs Cook in the Microwave
Even the worst cook can manage to use a microwave to heat a cup of instant ramen noodles, but some professional chefs use them all the time for certain foods. Find out what the pros cook in the microwave.
No one knows lobster better than Rich Vellante, executive chef of Legal Sea Foods, who says that cooking them in the microwave is the way to go and is even preferable to steaming or grilling them. “Microwaving allows the flesh to steam in its own juices and the lobster meat is rendered juicy, tender, and exceptionally flavourful.” Chef Vellante says to place the live lobster in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to dull it, place on a microwaveable plate, remove the rubber bands around the claws, put half a lemon and 2 tablespoons of water on top, then microwave on the highest setting. Microwave a 1-pound lobster for 6 1/2 to 7 minutes (add a minute for each additional quarter pound). Let the lobster cool in the microwave for 10 minutes before serving. “Cooked in a microwave, the meat retains its brininess and stays firm, yet is very tender and juicy,” Vellante says. “The cooking happens from the inside out versus conventional cooking.”
The microwave is perfect for foods that have a high water content, including fruits, vegetables, and fish. “I have also had success with fish steamed in a bag with white wine and vegetables,” Chef Vellante says. Follow your favourite recipe for steamed fish but put it in a microwave-safe bag and cook checking frequently for doneness. Just be careful of the steam as microwave cooking can be very hot.
“Spaghetti squash can be cooked quickly in a microwave,” says Chef Vellante, “Just puncture a few holes in it and cook. It steams from the inside and the result is tender strands of squash that can be scooped out of the hard shell with little hassle and mess.” Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper for an easy, healthy side dish.
Ellie Deaner, cooking teacher, cookbook author, and owner of Let’s Get Cooking cooking school, says baked apples in the microwave is a favourite in her house. “They can be completely cooked and ready to eat in about five minutes!” Deaner says to choose four of your favourite type of apple, core them and peel off a bit of the skin around the top and bottom of the hole. Place the apples in a microwave safe dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar then drizzle about 1/4 cup of liquid such as fresh lemon juice, orange juice, cider, or water over the apples. Cover with a microwave-safe lid or parchment and cook on high for four to five minutes or until apples are tender. Cool slightly and eat as is, or top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Corn on the cob
“Corn on the cob is a summer favourite in our house, particularly when cooked in the microwave, so that the kitchen remains nice and cool,” Deaner says. Place stripped corn on a dish or platter large enough to hold the number of ears you want to cook. Sprinkle each ear with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper, cutting a couple of holes in it, and cook on high for 2 to 2½ minutes per ear.
Sauces and puddings
“Sauces like cheese sauce and blueberry sauce, as well as puddings, cook much faster in the microwave than on top of the stove, plus you don’t have to stand over them and continuously stir,” says Deaner. Simply place all the ingredients in a large microwaveable bowl and stir every two to three minutes, until they become as thick as you’d like, she says.
Gemma Stafford of Bigger Bolder Baking, a Los Angeles-based professional chef who is known for her microwave meals, snacks, and desserts says she grew up cooking scrambled eggs in the microwave. “Make sure to whisk up your eggs well before cooking and keep your eye on them so they don’t overcook or explode. It happens.”
You can cook noodles in the microwave with just a little bit of stock to get a lovely noodle dish or a hearty soup with your own mix-ins, says Stafford. Microwave noodles in stock for 2 to 2 ½ minutes or until the noodles are tender. You can turn this into a soup or remove the noodles and serve on a plate as a side dish.
“There are so many ways you can cook a potato in the microwave but my favourite is to make them into potato chips,” says Stafford. “Simply use a good quality oil (my favorite is olive oil) to get a lovely flavour without all the fat of store bought chips,” she says. You can also scrub a potato, poke holes with a fork so steam can escape, and microwave on half power until soft for a perfectly cooked “baked” potato.
Want that warm, gooey brownie? A mug brownie is just that without the wait time. “The trick is to microwave it just the right amount to fully cook the cake, but still give you a deliciously soft brownie,” Stafford says. Check frequently to make sure you’re not overcooking and be aware of the steam.