Admittedly, the microwave has made a name for itself in our kitchens, but it is often confined to this very limited role: defrosting or reheating food in record time. It’s very practical… But it can do so much more! And this without any risk to health, and even with real benefits.
At the end of the 1930s, researchers invented the magnetron, a device producing ultra-short waves for aerial radars. A few years later, while working near a magnetron, an engineer melts a chocolate bar in his pocket. Bingo: what if we used these waves to cook food? He filed a patent in 1946 and the following year was born Radarange, the first microwave oven, a 1.80 m mastodon. The microwaves which today equip 92%* of homes are fortunately more discreet, but they are always equipped with this famous magnetron which will emit a very high frequency magnetic field (2.450 MHz). The waves will be reflected on the metal walls before being absorbed by the food, in which they will agitate the water molecules. By rubbing against each other, they create heat, … and the food heats up!
First: dose the power well. “For meat and fish, 400 to 600 W is enough. Conversely, a plant is cooked at maximum power (over 800 W). This shortens the cooking time and therefore preserves the nutrients as well as possible. Foods containing starch such as pasta or potatoes also require maximum power”, explains Philippe Pouillard. By respecting these few rules, all foods can be microwaved, “with the possible exception of beef and pork which, due to their great heterogeneity in the distribution of fat and humidity, do not give very good results in the microwave”. For quick cooking, cut the food into evenly sized pieces, place them in a covered container and stir halfway through cooking. “The ideal way to preserve nutrients, texture and taste is steam and microwave cooking combined. No need to invest in a microwave oven with a steam function, consumer brands are inefficient, failing to create a dense enough steam mist, says the researcher. The easiest way is to cook the food in a little water and cover it with non-pierced stretch film or a glass lid. The steam escaping from the food will reproduce this steam effect. ”
Fish meat is delicate, cooked quickly and does not need to sit in the oven or pan for a long time. In the microwave, meat can be prepared much easier and faster. Some chefs use this method because it makes it even tastier.
Why cook fish in the microwave
Fish is an important source of protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. It is for this reason that health professionals recommend eating it at least once a week.
Far from presenting a health hazard, cooking in the microwave actually has virtues. “Compared to steam cooking, which results in a leaching phenomenon, or cooking ‘English style’ in a large quantity of boiling water, the microwave is the cooking method which best preserves the vitamins, in particular the vitamin C, very fragile to heat and water-soluble”, explains the expert. Another health benefit: it kills any pathogens (bacteria and others). While obtaining a food of great tenderness and even cooking, provided you follow a few little tricks.
If you have frozen fish fillets, season them then place them in the microwave on medium power for 6 minutes. You will enjoy tender and tasty meat.
6 star microwave cooking foods
1. THE EGG
Provided you don’t put it with its shell (carnage guaranteed!) or broken as it is on a plate (beware of yolk splashes!). A fried egg is obtained in 30 s at 600 W. The little trick: pierce the yolk slightly so that it doesn’t explode. For a poached or soft-boiled egg, break the egg into a bowl filled with 5 cl of water, then heat for 50 seconds at 900 W. A very fluffy minute omelet? Beat 2 eggs in a buttered bowl, pass 45 s at 900 W, stir with a fork then pass again for a few seconds.
2. THE APPLE
Peeled, cut into quarters, cooked for a few minutes covered at maximum power, then garnished with brown sugar or muscovado sugar and a hint of cinnamon, ginger or vanilla – or speculoos crumbs for more indulgence. For a compote, add a little water and lengthen the cooking time, stirring regularly.
3. THE POTATO
The microwave is a real alternative to boiling or steaming potatoes! Cook it whole, with or without skin, covered with a little water, 4 to 5 min at full power.. Check the cooking with a knife and adjust the time. For quick sautéed apples, pre-cook them in cubes with a little water in a covered casserole dish, then pan-fry for the crispy side.
4. FISH FILLET
Choose small pieces (fillet, steak, steak) to cook at low power (400 W max) starting with 2-3 min, check and adjust. The tenderloin is cooked when white drops form on its surface (this is albumen). The result: a fish that does not fall apart, tender and light.
Like all water-rich vegetables, eggplant lends itself well to the microwave. It cooks in a small amount of water, covered, for a few minutes at maximum power, cut into cubes or slices, or cut in half, taking care to prick the skin and seasoning (salt, pepper, basil, garlic, cumin).
6. CHICKEN BREAST
Because its water and fat composition is very homogeneous, chicken breast comes out very tender from the microwave, provided it is cooked at medium power (400 W). In terms of time, we don’t hesitate to go little by little. For more flavor, we accompany it with a touch of curry,a bed of onion, prunes or vegetables (zucchini, cherry tomatoes, etc.) which will release a little water in addition to the taste.
Tip for cleaning the microwave oven
To clean and rid the microwave of bad smells, heat a bowl of water with lemon juice or white vinegar for ten minutes. leave for a few minutes then clean the walls with a microfiber cloth. to disinfect a sponge, moisten it and put it in the microwave for a few seconds at full power.
Harmless waves and no toxic by-products
Waves ? Just the word arouses fears… Wrongly, at least concerning the microwave. “Many independent scientific studies show that microwave waves are no longer a controversial subject today, assures Dr Philippe Pouillart. They have nothing to do with the waves from our mobile phones, and there is no trace of them left in the food or in the oven after use. There is also no risk of being ‘irradiated’ by staying close to your microwave, especially since the standards are very strict. ” As for this idea (received) according to which cooking in the microwave would lead to the appearance of toxic molecules, this is not the case. Like any method of cooking, the microwave changes the structure of the food to make it more digestible – that’s the point. “But the advantage of the microwave is that it does not generate neoformed products like the Maillard products”, recalls the specialist.
We are more wary of the container
“The toxicity, if any, will come from misuse of the containers”, believes Philippe Pouillart. At high temperatures, certain substances present in packaging, in particular plastics, are in fact likely to migrate towards the food. “If we use stretch film or a plastic container, we check that it has the number 2, 4 or 5 surrounded by a triangle, continues the expert. But the best is to use a glass or enamelled ceramic container. ” And as a precaution, we can only advise you to avoid all plastic… In a 2015 opinion, ANSES also called on consumers to carefully follow the recommendations (power and cooking time) indicated on the packaging of products to be heated in the microwave.
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