Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Microwave Pressure Cooker. Yes, it exists.

Everyone has their cooking nemesis. For some people, it's yeast bread. For some it's pastry. Or gravy. or biscuits.

I can make all those things, no problem. My nemesis is rice.

Yes, plain old white rice.

It didn't used to be that way. Long ago when I lived in an area roughly level with the sea, I could cook rice with nary a second thought. Perfect every time.

Then I moved about a mile vertically, and rice became angry with me. It refused to cooperate. I made crunchy rice and mushy rice and wet rice and burned rice. I scrubbed more blackened rice out of the bottom of saucepans than I ever want to admit.

So, I gave in and bought a rice cooker and never looked back.

But then this mystical plastic item, bright red, appeared on my doorstep. A microwave pressure cooker made by SilverStone. What sort of magic is this?

I skimmed through the instructions and pawed through the recipes. And then I saw it. Beans and rice. Really???

I'm pretty adept with a pressure cooker. I own stove-top models and an electric one, but I use them mostly for things that would otherwise have to cook for a really long time, like oxtails or corned beef. I never thought about making rice in my pressure cooker. But when I saw this recipe, it was an "aha" moment that I couldn't resist.

I figured that I could modify the beans-and-rice recipe to cook just the rice, so I used 1 1/2 cups of rice, 2 cups of liquid (chicken stock and water) and a tablespoon of butter. And some salt, since the stock wasn't salted.

I put the lid on it, chucked it in the microwave, and set it for 10 minutes on high. I heard the microwave beep (no explosions, but I did hear some hissing inside the microwave prior to that, as one would expect from a pressure cooker) and I gave it a couple more minutes to cool down.

The pressure valve was already down, so I opened the cooker, and ... RICE! Cooked rice in TEN MINUTES!!!

It MUST be voodoo, I tell you!

The rice was just a tad undercooked for my taste. Not al dente or crunchy, but just slightly firmer than I prefer.

I wouldn't have had a problem serving the rice exactly the way it came out, but it ended up being sort of perfect, because I decided I wanted to add some peas to the rice. So I added peas, a little extra water, and cooked for one more minute.

I wasn't terribly surprised that the rice wasn't totally perfect on the first try. When I cook rice in my rice cooker, I have to add water above the rice cooker's suggested amount. High altitude and all that.

So, next time I make rice in the magic voodoo time machine ... uh, I mean microwave pressure cooker ... I'll use 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water and maybe increase the cooking time by a minute. Because 11-minute rice is still like some kind of cooking miracle.

So, even if this critter only cooked rice, I'd be pretty giddy about it, because it's FAST rice. The rice cooker is simple, but I have to plan ahead.

A couple days later, I decided to cook come dry beans. Of course I didn't plan ahead - the beans weren't soaked. But lately I've read some articles that say that there's really no compelling reason to soak. Except of course that if you soak them, they cook faster when you get around to cooking.

I used 1 cup of beans with 3 cups of water and checked them after 10 minutes to see how they were doing. Nope. I added salt and cooked them for another 10 minutes and they were done. But!!! I think a better ratio would have been 1 cup of beans and 4 cups of water.

So far, I really like this pressure cooker. It's going to take a little bit of recipe expeimenting before I know exactly how long I need to cook different foods, but that's not a big deal.

I also think this would be great for people who are interested in having a pressure cooker but who are a little skittish about having one. Because, seriously, if something goes wrong and it spews stuff out the vent, it's going to be contained inside the microwave. That's still messy, but it's not as bad as scraping food off the kitchen ceiling.

Who's it for: People who want to try pressure cooking.

Pros: Works well, so far it's easy to clean. Doesn't require as much watching as a stovetop model, since the microwave controls the timing. Has a steamer rack (there are recipes that came with it that use this rack).

Cons: Not a lot of recipes written for this pressure cooker, so you'll need to adapt.

Wishes: It would be great to see these in different sizes, eventually.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.


  1. OMGoodness! Where has this been all my life?! This is going on my wishlist!
    Also,about the high altitude cooking thing---I moved from Houston to Denver and had to completely relearn how to cook. I never did get a couple of my pies to turn out. Now I am in St Louis and having to unlearn the Denver cooking. But my pies work again :)

  2. Yes, it's so much fun, isn't it? The first time I cooked corned beef, I gave up the first day and finished cooking it the second day.


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