Japan Nutritionist Serves Up Tasty Microwave-steamed Dishes for Hot Summer Days

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From bottom: Eggplant keema curry; bibimbap with various vegetables; and nonfried chicken nanban

When the hot-and-humid season arrives, most people are keen to keep kitchen flames to a minimum. Step forward the microwave oven. Today, nutritionist Madoka Sanjo offers a delicious baking paper-wrapped steamed dish.

Every June, recipe site Cookpad logs a gradual uptick in searches for microwave-cooked recipes that peaks in July and August. When searching, many users combine such terms as “easy,” “vegetable” and “steam,” according to a representative of the site.

“The advantage of microwave ovens is that they heat foods efficiently and cook items in a short time,” Sanjo said.

Microwave ovens also allow for lower cooking oil usage, easy stewing, and, in the case of vegetables, better preservation of nutrients.

Prior to cooking, ensure all the ingredients are about the same size, then add seasoning. For the wrapping, diagonally fold a 30 cm x 30 cm piece of baking paper, then open and place the ingredients in the center.

Bring the top and bottom sides together, fold down along the top edge to ensure a seal, then close off the package at the ends by twisting the left and right corners together, as if wrapping a piece of candy.

Eggplant keema curry is a time-saving dish that can be cooked without simmering. To cut down on the amount of oil used, use curry powder instead of curry roux.

Eggplant Keema Curry

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 eggplant (80 grams)
  • 60 grams ground pork
  • 1 tbsp grated potato
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • Directions:

      1. Peel eggplant leaving a few strips of skin. Cut into 1-centimeter-wide slices and soak in water to reduce astringency.

      2. Mix ground meat, curry powder, potato, garlic, seasonings and 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl.

      3. Wipe eggplant pieces dry, place them on the baking sheet and mix with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Place ingredients in bowl atop eggplant pieces.

      4. Wrap ingredients in baking paper and microwave for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. Unwrap and stir.

      When preparing a bibimbap, heat rice and ingredients simultaneously.

      Various Vegetables Bibimbap

      Ingredients (serves 1)

      • 50 grams shredded beef
      • 30 grams bean sprouts
      • 4 green beans (30 grams)
      • 20 grams carrots
      • 150 grams rice
      • Pinch of scorched white sesame seeds
      • 1 soft-boiled egg
      • 1 tbsp 3x-concentrated mentsuyu noodle broth
      • 1 tsp gochujang
      • 1 tsp sesame oil
      • 1/4 tsp grated garlic

      • Directions:

          1. Combine seasonings in a bowl, add shredded beef and stir well. Add bean sprouts, shredded pea pods and carrots, then mix.

          2. Place rice in center of baking paper, add pinch of salt and pepper, then top with mixed ingredients. Spread ingredients evenly.

          3. Wrap ingredients and microwave for 4 1/2 minutes. Open package, sprinkle white sesame seeds, stir to remove moisture and place soft-boiled egg on top.

          Chicken nanban prepared sans deep-frying can reduce calories by about 60%. Potato starch and oil serve as batter.

          Nonfried Chicken Nanban

          Ingredients (serves 2)

          • 300 grams chicken meat
          • 1 tbsp soy sauce
          • 1 tbsp vinegar
          • 1 tsp sugar
          • 1/2 tsp grated garlic
          • 2 tsp salad oil
          • For tartar sauce
          • 1 boiled egg, chopped
          • 2 tbsp chopped onion
          • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
          • Pinch of salt and pepper

          • Directions:

              1. Pierce the chicken with a fork, cut into 1.5-centimeter-thick slices and marinate in the seasoning for 15 minutes.

              2. Wipe chicken pieces dry, sprinkle katakuriko potato starch on each piece and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of salad oil. Arrange pieces on a baking sheet ensuring no overlap.