It is said the microwave started in the mid-1940s, when a scientist named Spencer suddenly noticed that the chocolate bar in his trousers was now a melted mess. Never a man to let hazards get in the way of innovation, he quickly prodded other food items into its vicinity and watched excitedly as they heated up. ‘Just think,’ he thought to himself, ‘how quickly I could make a delicious hot dog every day! If only I could contain this energy in a small box…’ At least one supposes something like this went through his mind, since he christened it the ‘Speedy Weenie Project’.
Thank goodness that name was slashed during the marketing phase. Not that microwaves have earned a more highbrow reputation, having been deemed the bosom friend of the anti-cook. However, microwaves can quickly cook foods with a high water content, and eliminate the need for oil. The two variations on a theme below are adaptations of recipes for broiled and steamed fish. Of course, those less enthusiastic about new technologies than Dr Percy Spencer are welcome to proceed the old-fashioned way.
A. Cod with Satsuma and Garlic
2 cod fillets*
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 satsuma (or half of an orange)
salt and pepper, to taste
drizzle of olive oil (optional)
B. Cod with Ginger and Scallions
2 cod fillets*
2 scallion (green onion) stalks, loosely chopped
a 1-cm or so slice of ginger, peeled and slivered
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
*I use frozen fillets and defrost them overnight in the refrigerator.
1. Rinse cod fillets and pat them dry with a paper towel, then arrange them in a shallow bowl or plate with raised sides (juices will come out of the fish during cooking).
2. a. If you are making recipe A, distribute the garlic on the two sides of the fish, then peel the satsuma and squeeze it over the fillets. Sprinkle with salt.
b. If you are making recipe B, distribute the ginger and chopped scallion pieces over the two fillets, then pour the soy sauce evenly over everything.
3. Cover the fish with a plate so it doesn’t dry out and microwave on high until the middle of the flesh has just turned opaque. You should be able to easily flake the fish. (In my 720-watt microwave this took 1.5 to 2 minutes, but you may need to experiment a bit.)
4. Remove and uncover, avoiding the very hot steam, and drizzle with a bit of oil for flavour if you must. For recipe A, you can grind some pepper over the fish at this point.
5. Serve with steamed vegetables and rice (or noodles) for a light meal.