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I read this question for microwaving chicken, and it left me wondering:

Are there any dishes that can only be prepared with a microwave? If such dishes exist, what are their characteristics and why will in this case only a microwave work? What is the crucial difference between a microwave and other cooking methods here?

Searches I've done have come up with dishes that can be cooked using a microwave instead of using other appliances, but what I'm looking for are dishes that can only be cooked in a microwave and can't be cooked by any other method.

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    I would strongly suggest an edit - as it stands, it’s a list and there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer - or this will be closed by the site’s rules (see How to Ask). Asking what properties of a microwave can’t be mimicked by another cooking method or what characterizes “microwave only” recipes or dishes would be perfectly ok. – Stephie Nov 15 at 16:56
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    Note: the answer in question is deleted, because it was an unnecessarily hostile formulation of "no, you can't cook with microwaves". I think this question is clear enough even without that full context, though I do also share Stephie's concerns about the answerability of the question (and its breadth). – Cascabel Nov 15 at 17:08
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    Did an edit. Soulis, if you would like to add your own thoughts, feel free to edit again. Just make sure that the question remains within the scope of the site and acceptable types of questions. The tour and the help center will explain more. Welcome to Seasoned Advice! – Stephie Nov 15 at 17:24
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    Microwave popcorn. – Randy Zeitman Nov 17 at 6:12
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    @RandyZeitman, you can still do the microwave popcorn on the stove. ehow.com/how_7664178_cook-microwave-popcorn-pan.html – computercarguy Nov 18 at 19:54
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Yes!

In 1969, the physicist Nicholas Kurti gave a talk in which he demonstrated a variant of Baked Alaska called "Frozen Florida": a shell of frozen meringue around a center of hot liquor. This was done by chilling the meringue and the liquor together, then cooking in a microwave oven which had a rotating platter and no stirring fan. Because the microwave beam was always heating the center but only intermittently heating any given part of the meringue, and because the meringue was low-density and frozen, the liquor could be heated while the meringue remained frozen.

(The idea was broadly similar to, and presumably inspired by, radiation therapy for cancer, in which a tightly focused beam of radiation revolves around a particular spot which may be deep inside the subject's body: only that single spot is always being energized by the beam, so it receives much more energy than the rest of the body does.)

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    You'd need to characterise your microwave very well, and it would need to be designed such that an antinode coincided fairly with the rotation axis (IME the axis is usually neither a node nor an antinode, tested using a slab of chocolate). Nice – Chris H Nov 15 at 16:33
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    Was this just a physics experiment done in a lab or a practical application in home or commercial kitchens? – Stephie Nov 15 at 16:47
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    @ Stephie ♦: I was a high school student when Kurti, when visiting his home country, Hungary, had a presentation in an auditorium near my school to which my class was also invited (actually, we also had a more direct and personal meeting with him, thanks to my physics teacher's personal contacts with him). This was in the early 1980s. I don't know about the original setup of 1969 but by that time, Kurti had mastered the presentation so that it could be performed live in an auditorium. Some lucky people sitting in the first row had a chance to taste all his creations. – Gábor Nov 16 at 14:39
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    @Stephie ♦: I still remember his words about how much his Frozen Florida creation was different from a lowly Baked Alaska: you burn your lips first but then your teeth start to hurt from the cold. With his Frozen Florida, you first ache from cold, only then you burn your lips. What a difference! I can't remember the exact details of the recpice, though, but I suspect the center was some kind of jam by then rather than liquor, this seems to be easier to handle. – Gábor Nov 16 at 14:56
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    This is actually due to physics! Microwaves work great on liquids, but terrible on ice. what-if.xkcd.com/130 – Wayne Werner Nov 16 at 21:52
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The "instant" sponge cake, innovated at El Bulli, can only be made in a microwave. Here is an example. Basically, a batter is poured into a whipping siphon. It is charged. The aerated batter is dispensed into paper cups. The cake is cooked in a microwave. The cups are removed and inverted. The cake is released. It is easy and fun to do.

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    And I assume the foam would simply collapse if one tried to set (bake) it in a regular oven, right? – Stephie Nov 16 at 6:55
  • I haven't tried it in the oven @Stephie, but I would assume a slower cook, and, therefore perhaps a less aerated and flatter result. – moscafj Nov 16 at 12:10
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At least for smallish and thin objects, microwaves heat foods “everywhere and throughout at the same time” (for lack of a better description). Exactly what isn’t desired for a steak, as discussed in the Q/A that inspired your question.

To achieve similar results of heat distribution with other methods, you either

  • stir the food (for cooking in a pot)
  • supply heat from all sides (when baking in an oven or steaming)

If both don’t work, because you don’t want to heat from the the bottom or surroundings only and don’t want to stir, your can only use the microwave:

Place a Schokokuss for a few seconds in a microwave to puff it up. Unlike plain (and firmer) marshmallows, they become soft, gooey and semi-liquid. Total guilty pleasure and comfort food, but can only be made with a microwave. Use a low setting and take it out before it disintegrates completely. Here’s a random video (in German, but the text is utterly irrelevant).

  • @JoL fixed, thanks. That’s tricky to do on mobile... – Stephie Nov 17 at 20:33
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I saw someone point out the El Bulli instant sponge cake, and it immediately reminded me of a different recipe: The Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake. I know it's not exactly a microwave-only recipe since cakes have been around since antiquity, but this is a specific recipe for the microwave with a couple advantages over an oven baked cake.

A microwave cake is done really quickly: it's essentially just mixing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, pouring the batter into a mug, and putting it in the microwave for a little over a minute. The result is a surprisingly spongey cake that can be made even by the most inexperienced of chefs in per-person servings, instead of having to make an entire cake that you need to finish in a couple days.. there also is a lot less cleanup to do after this recipe: a mug, a stirring implement and a bowl, compared to 3 separate bowls for the egg components and the cake batter, something to whisk the eggs, something to mix the batter and a cake mould. I have personally made microwave cakes on occassion and it was surprisingly good.

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If you nuke an onion half, with an X cut in the middle as deep as possible but not through the outer layer, and seasoned with lemon pepper and a pat of butter on top, until the onion is soft, you have a tasty serving of vegetable

I don't think any other way of preparing an onion would taste less "oniony".

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    You can bake the onion in a salt crust . – Max Nov 17 at 16:22
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    you can bake it whole in it's own skin. I sometimes throw some wrapped in foil when barbecueing, and they come out sweet and not onion-y at all. – Luciano Nov 18 at 12:31
  • Upvote but... wh-what made you try that in the first place? Or the person you learned the trick from? – user76448 Nov 18 at 19:25
  • Oh, I want to try this. – ggb667 Nov 21 at 16:23
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Possible duplicate of this question. As mentioned there, there is the intriguing idea of a Vauquelin - a heat-stabilized egg-white foam, somewhere in between ice cream and meringue.

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