Cooking seafood in the microwave - part 1

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Measure Ingredient
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Purchasing Seafood to Microwave
Defrosting Frozen Seafood
Estimating Cooking Time
Arranging Fish for Microwaving
Covering Fish
Rotating Fish
Standing Time

Fish are a natural in the microwave because they contain a lot of moisture. Microwave, produced from electricity in the oven's magnetron tube, are absorbed by water. This cause the water molecules to vibrate 2 million times per second, creating friction and, consequently, heat within the food. The food literally cooks itself while the air and utensil stay cool.

Fish and shell fish come in all shapes and sizes. If different seafoods will be combined and cooked together, select similarly sized pieces so the fish or shellfish will cook evenly and be done at the same time.

To defrost one pound of fish fillets frozen together in a block, crimp small strips of aluminum foil around the ends of the carton or unwrapped block of fish. This prevents the ends from cooking.

Microwave on medium-low (30%) about 8 minutes, flipping the carton or block over midway through defrosting. Return the fish to the refrigerator to finish thawing. Because shrimp and scallops can thaw quickly in the microwave and begin to cook, it's best to not defrost them in the microwave.

Instead, place them in the refrigerator overnight or, in a pinch, under cold running water.

The more seafood you put in the microwave, the longer it will take to cook. Microwave all seafood on high power: : Squid rings

: 1-2 minutes per pound : Shrimp and scallops

: 2-3 minutes per pound : Fish fillets and steaks : 3-4 minutes per pound : Small clams or mussels

: 4-5 minutes per dozen Since microwaves are reflected off the oven's walls into food, they cook the outside edges first. The heat is eventually conducted into the center. So it's important to choose and arrange seafood so it cooks as evenly as possible.

For fillets or steaks of uniform size and thickness, arrange along the inside edge of baking dish, placing none in the center. For fillets of uneven thickness, overlap thin ends, forming a wreath of approximately even thickness. Fillets can be stuffed and rolled, then arranged in a circle. For kebabs, use nonmetallic skewers such as bamboo. Skewers should be threaded with like sizes of seafood. STand clams hinge-side down around the inside edge of a dish. Lay mussels on their sides in a circle with hinge end pointing to the outside of the dish.

Plastic wrap or a lid traps steam helping to cook fish evenly. Wax paper can be used as a loose cover when you don't need to hold in all the steam. Because paper towels absorb moisture, they should only be used when microwaving crumb-coated fish. This helps keep the crumbs from getting soggy, but the coating will not be crisp, as in a conventional oven.

To promote even cooking, move the seafood midway through cooking; rotate a baking dish; turn a thick steak over and stir shrimp, scallops and cubes of fish. For kebabs of skewered seafood, rearrange skewers, exchanging those at the outside with those in the center.

After the microwave turns off, seafood will continue to cook for a minute or two. This is due to the continued vibration of water molecules as they slow and come to a stop. Other phrases that mean the same thing are "carryover cooking time" and "testing time". Test seafood for doneness after the standing time is completed.

Simply Seafood Summer 1995

Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 08-23-95

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