There is a microwave oven in every kitchen today, but it is often used only for heating food. Many people know that you can cook food in it, but for some reason, very few people do it. Some people say that dishes from the microwave are tasteless, and others say that cooking is too long. Let’s figure out whether all this is true or just biased.
Features of the Microwave Oven
In the classical cooking method, food is usually heated by heat transfer from more heated bodies: from hot air in the oven, from a hot frying pan or pan. When cooking on the grill, food is heated by infrared radiation. Heating in a microwave oven is fundamentally different from the above — it heats the food or the moisture inside the products.
The 2.45 GHz radiation frequency emitted by the magnetron of a microwave oven causes the water molecules trapped inside the microwave. Each water molecule under the influence of a magnetic field makes 2.5 million vibrations per second, leading to rapid liquid heating.
In this case, the penetration depth of radiation depends on the product. If microwaves penetrate 1-1. 5 cm into meat, 2-3 cm into vegetables, then 3-5 cm into the dough. Most of the difficulties of cooking food in a microwave oven are related to these features.
Differences between Microwave Cooking and Classic Methods
· Soups and Porridges in a Saucepan
Cooking involves cooking food in boiling water, and the microwave copes perfectly with water heating. There is no fundamental difference when cooking in a pot between a microwave oven and a stove. Unless you need to cook in glass dishes for the microwave, you cannot use metal dishes in the microwave.
On the stove, the pan’s metal is first heated, giving heat to the water. In the microwave, the outer layer of water is heated directly. Therefore, you can safely use all recipes with cooking in the microwave. The result will be even better than the classic one — the water is heated in the microwave, and the pan remains cold, so porridges and thick soups will not burn.
But there is still a minus. Most microwaves emit less than 800 watts of microwave radiation, and only a few units can produce 1 kW. It is this power that you will spend on heating the product. Is it enough? The gas burner gives off a heat output of 2-2. 5 kW, and although its efficiency is low (from 70%), it is still 2-3 times more than that of a microwave oven. Boil water in the microwave will be longer — 3 liters of water will come to a boil for 20 minutes.
But the difference is not so noticeable in small volumes, and the microwave oven is perfect for making small portions of porridge or soup.
|The product does not burn||Water boils longer|
|You can set the exact cooking time||Special dishes are required|
|You can cook immediately on a plate||It is more difficult to take a sample and monitor readiness|
· Sauces and Creams
It would seem that all of the above should also apply to sauces and creams because they are also cooked. Alas, not always. Sauces that require boiling can mostly be prepared in the microwave. And the result may even be much better than the classic one due to the lack of heat.
However, it would help if you remembered that the heating of the contents of the microwave oven is uneven: only the outer layer warms up, so the dishes should be periodically removed and mixed. Stir the sauce constantly, as is sometimes done on the stove, will not work.
However, cooking bechamel, cheese, and tomato sauce in the microwave is not only possible but also easier than on the stove.
But you should prepare sauces and creams not brought to a boil in the microwave with caution. Mayonnaise, cream, and sour cream are stratified when boiling in the microwave. Mixtures with these products can be prepared at minimum power and only in inverter models. In a typical microwave oven, the magnetron always outputs maximum power; in the “weak” mode, it simply turns on intermittently for a short time. And if there is no difference for ordinary water, then a few seconds of magnetron operation at full power may be enough for the cream to collapse.
|The product does not burn||Special dishes are required|
|You can set the exact cooking time||Harder to stir|
|Do not cook sauces and creams that are not brought to a boil|
Baked Goods and Other Dishes from the Oven
What’s the difference between an oven and a microwave oven — the same pie should be equally well baked in any version. It turns out not.
· Baked Food
The oven is heated with hot air, which first bakes the dish’s shell, creating a crust.
In the microwave, no crust is formed — the dough warms up evenly over the entire depth, and taking into account its permeability to microwave radiation, the filling warms up immediately. And the problem here is not only that the favorite taste of the baked crust disappears.
The crust formed in the oven on the pie locks the moisture inside it-the dough turns out soft and juicy, and the filling retains its taste. And in the microwave, the moisture will evaporate. As a result, you will get a piece of dried filling in a shell of dried dough. The same will happen with cookies, meat, vegetables, and other products-the taste and consistency will be much worse than when cooked in the oven.
You can’t cook pastries in a regular microwave oven.
· Fried Dishes
Here, the problem of the golden crust occurs mostly. The principle of roasting is that the product, in contact with the hot surface of the frying pan and heated oil, forms a crust that locks in moisture. And the faster the crust is formed, the better the moisture in the product will remain and the juicier it will be. All this is utterly inapplicable to the microwave.
It is impossible to roast in the microwave.
But maybe you can prepare at least a microwave grill. After all, the grill carried out cooking under radiation influence.
No. When cooking on the grill, the product’s surface is heated to 300°C, forming the same crust that retains moisture inside the product. The fact is that the formation of a crust occurs at temperatures above 100 °C, and the microwave oven cannot heat the food to this temperature — the maximum temperature of the product inside a conventional microwave oven corresponds to the boiling point of water.
You cannot cook grill in a regular microwave.
Microwave with Grill and Convection
Microwave manufacturers are trying to eliminate the abovementioned problems to break down all these culinary barriers. The result is a hybrid of an oven and a microwave.
In microwave ovens with convection, a heating element is installed that heats the air to a temperature of 180-200 °C. A fan distributes the air through the chamber. The much-needed crust is created with the help of hot air, and cooking occurs in parallel, both due to exposure to microwave rays and heating with air. In such microwaves, you can prepare pastries.
A high-temperature heating element in microwave ovens is installed with a grill, which creates powerful infrared radiation. Again, the effect on the product is parallel-infrared and microwave radiation simultaneously.
There is almost no difference with cooking in the oven, except for the smaller volume of the microwave chamber. Some argue that in a microwave oven with a grill or convection, dishes are even tastier. The layers of the product are heated evenly and not gradually from the outside in, as in classic cooking.
But it is impossible to say this unequivocally — haute cuisine does not recognize a microwave oven, and it does not matter, with or without a grill. We suggest that you try it yourself and decide where the truth is. If you decide, check out some food recipes here.
You can cook food in the microwave. In most cases, it creates some difficulties. So it hardly makes sense to cook a “serious” dish for several people in a microwave oven without special needs. But make porridge or soup for yourself for breakfast — here, the microwave can be in some ways even more convenient than the stove.