We've got a lot of questions about specific microwave cooking here - for example, "can I cook hamburgers in the microwave oven?" But rather than asking about specific foods, I would like to see some more general guidelines or widely applicable advice.
If I want to prepare a recipe or just cook a single item, how can I predict how it will turn out if I nuke it in the microwave instead of doing what the original recipe calls for (steaming, grilling, etc.)? Do some cooking methods work better than others in a microwave? And if some ingredients cook better than others in a microwave, why is that the case?
I'm looking for answers that don't rely on complicated techniques or specialized equipment. Making a cake using compressed gas, for instance, might be interesting or cool to watch, but is really not what I'm after in this question. I'm talking about being able to just pop something in, maybe adjust the power level, and go.
- A normal microwave - no convection or other exotic features.
- Home use, not professional cooking - "good enough" rather than "the best possible tool for the job." For example, some food might be best if reheated in an oven, but still just fine in the microwave.
- Basic tasks, not replacing a kitchen - generally, "I want to cook X, and I have a stove, an oven, and a microwave. Could I just as easily do it in the microwave as anything else?"