In the late 1930s, researchers invented the magnetron, a device that produces ultrashort waves for airborne radar. A few years later, while working near a magnetron, an engineer melts a bar of chocolate in his pocket. Bingo: what if we used these waves to cook food? He applied for a patent in 1946 and the following year Radarange was born, the first microwave oven, a behemoth of 1.80 m The microwaves that 92%* of homes are equipped with today are fortunately more discreet, but they are always equipped with this famous magnetron that they emit a very high frequency magnetic field (2,450 MHz). The waves will reflect off the metal walls before being absorbed by the food, where they will stir up the water molecules. By rubbing against each other, they generate heat… and the food gets hot!
How to cook food in the microwave?
First: dose the power well. “For meat and fish, 400 to 600 W is enough. On the contrary, a plant is cooked at maximum power (more than 800 W). This shortens the cooking time and therefore preserves the nutrients as well as possible. Starchy foods such as pasta or potatoes also require maximum power”, explains Philippe Pouillard. Respecting these few rules, all foods can be heated in the microwave, “with the possible exception of beef and pork, which, due to their great heterogeneity in the distribution of fat and moisture, do not give very good results in the microwave.” microwave”. For quick cooking, cut food into even-sized pieces, place them in a covered container and stir halfway through cooking. “The ideal way to preserve nutrients, texture and flavor is the combination of steam and microwave. There is no need to invest in a microwave with a steam function, consumer brands are inefficient and fail 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-perforated stretch film or a glass lid. The steam coming off the food will reproduce this steam effect. ”
Fish meat is delicate, cooks 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 more flavorful.
Why cook fish in the microwave?
Fish is an important source of protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. That is why health professionals recommend consuming it at least once a week.
Far from presenting a health hazard, microwave cooking has virtues. “Compared to steam cooking, which causes a leaching phenomenon, or ‘English’ cooking in large amounts of boiling water, microwave cooking is the method that best preserves vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which is very fragile to heat and water soluble”, explains the expert. Other health benefit: kills any pathogens (bacteria and others). While you get a food of great tenderness and even cooking, as long as you follow a few little tricks.
If you have frozen fish fillets, season them and microwave on medium power for 6 minutes. You will enjoy a tender and tasty meat.
6 Star Microwave Foods
1. THE EGG
As long as you don’t put it in its shell (guaranteed butchery!) or broken as it is on a plate (watch out for splashes of yolk!). A fried egg is obtained in 30 s at 600 W. The little trick: lightly prick the yolk so it doesn’t explode. For a poached or soft-boiled egg, crack the egg into a bowl filled with 5 cl of water, then heat for 50 seconds at 900 W. A very fluffy minute omelette? Beat 2 eggs in a buttered bowl, cook for 45 s at 900 W, stir with a fork and cook again for a few seconds.
2. THE APPLE
Peeled, quartered, cooked for a few minutes covered at full power, then garnished with brown or muscovado sugar and a touch of cinnamon, ginger or vanilla, or speculoos crumbs for added 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, for 4 to 5 minutes at maximum power.. Check the doneness with a knife and adjust the time. To quickly sauté apples, pre-cook them in cubes with a little water in a covered saucepan, then fry until crisp.
4. FISH FILLET
Choose small pieces (steak, steak, steak) to cook at low power (400 W max) from 2-3 min, check and adjust. The loin 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 vegetables rich in water, the eggplant lends itself well to the microwave. Cook in a little 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 season (salt, pepper, basil, garlic, cumin).
6. CHICKEN BREAST
Due to its very homogeneous composition of water and fat, chicken breast comes out very tender from the microwave, as long as it is cooked at medium power (400 W). As for time, we do not hesitate to go little by little. For more flavor, we accompany it with a touch of curry,a bed of onions, plums or greens (courgettes, cherry tomatoes, etc.) that will release a little water in addition to the flavor.
Tip for cleaning the microwave oven
To clean and remove bad odors from the microwave, heat a container of water with lemon juice or white vinegar for ten minutes. leave for a few minutes and 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 maximum power.
Harmless waves and no toxic by-products.
The waves ? Just the word raises fears… Wrongly, at least when it comes to the microwave. “Many independent scientific studies show that microwave waves are no longer a controversial topic today, says 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 near your microwave, especially as the standards are so strict. As for that (received) idea according to which cooking in the microwave would give rise to the appearance of toxic molecules, this is not the case. Like any cooking method, microwaving changes the structure of 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 those of Maillard”, recalls the specialist.
We are more cautious with the container
“The toxicity, if any, will come from the misuse of the containers”, believes Philippe Pouillart. At high temperatures, certain substances in packaging, particularly plastics, tend to migrate into the food. “If we use stretch film or a plastic container, we verify that it has the number 2, 4 or 5 surrounded by a triangle, continues the expert. But it is best to use a glass or enameled ceramic container. ” And as a precaution, we can only advise you to avoid all plastic… In a 2015 opinion, the ANSES also urged consumers to carefully follow the recommendations (power and cooking time) indicated on the packaging of products to be heated in the microwave.