Single Purpose Robots

Single Purpose Robots

The greatest single purpose robot of all time is probably the dishwasher. I think not having a dishwasher is the source of a lot of stress, breakups and house tension. It saves you time and having to deal with the filth of eating. It's more water and energy efficient. Literally nobody doesn't want a dishwasher.

But people don't feel the same way about all kitchen robots. Like the air-fryer or the microwave. I meet a lot of people who are very tribal about the way they see appliances. People who 'would never own a microwave'.

I recently discovered the company Anyday who make these sexy microwave dishes. I saw a video with David Chang cooking a bunch of cool shit in Anyday's on YouTube and got obsessed. It's the first time I saw my microwave as a really cool kitchen appliance. I'm equally or more excited about cooking in the microwave than the air fryer now. The two together are a dinner powerhouse.

You can't buy Anyday's products in the UK. But any pyrex or ceramic dish works fine. The main thing is being able to trap steam to cook things fast and evenly. You can do this with clingfilm on any dish (but it feels kind of gross). I grabbed all my saucepan lids and put them in the microwave one by one and found a few didn't spark up. You can put metal in the microwave if it's smooth and stainless steel.

Pyrex also have a similar thing to Anyday called Cook and Heat. The lid is plastic and not glass. But it has the same silicone seal and steam vents. And the food isn't in contact with the plastic lid so I think it's okay.

Some dinners I've cooked a'la microwave

Sushi rice with gochgugang chicken.

Rice in the microwave is a game changer. It takes 20 minutes but it's set and forget. In a 1 litre pyrex jug I infused some garlic and ginger in olive oil for 1min. Added 2 chicken thighs, gochujang, tamari and cooked at 50% for 10 minutes. I'm still learning cook times so probed it until it was 71c internal. For veg I sliced up some carrots and mushrooms and micro-steamed in some tamari for 2 mins.

I took it to work and microwaved it for 3 mins. It fucking slapped.

This was a prototype work lunch

Pasta with tomato sauce

I didn't microwave the pasta. But I'm going to try soon and know it'll
be fine.
While my pasta was cooking traditionally I micro-simmered my tomato sauce. In a 1 litre pyrex jug I infused some garlic and chilli flakes with EVOO for 1 min. Then added some tinned plum tomatoes, salt and pepper. And cooked it at 100% (I think) for about 8mins.

I've been making this spicy tomato pasta for years in the good christian way with saucepans. This micro version was just as good and way simpler.

El paso beef burrito kit

I have fond memories of my mum getting in an El Paso fajita kit growing up. We were strictly a chicken fajita household but recently I spread my wings a bit and tried the burrito kit. It's nice. The tortillas are still fucking tiny.

I was brave and didn't even brown the mince in a pan. I browned it off in the microwave on its own first. There's no maillard reaction going on but its about to be submerged into burrito sauce so I don't think its matters honestly. I added the diced onion and peppers and cooked it for about 10 minutes. I made a fresh salsa relish thing while it cooked away and we also microwaved the tortilla packet.

It was tasty but it definitely lacked some of the original wow factor. I'd say 80% as good for 20% of the effort. Mince beef is a tricky one. I think chicken would be totally fine. El Paso chicken fajitas would be a 95% as good situation I'm sure.

Asian marinated chicken with rice and veggies

This one is fuzzy to remember but it was something like a chicken stir fry with rice. In a large pyrex dish I added chicken thighs, chilli oil, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, agave syrup. I cooked it at 50% for 5 mins. Then added some courgette and carrot and cooked for 5 more minutes. Using the same dish cuts down on washing up. And I'll often throw the veggies just on top so they don't mix in with what's underneath. This way they're more like simply steamed veggies and not a homogenous element of a curry like thing.

Broccoli and Mushrooms.

Broccoli is so good in the microwave. It comes out super green and is really easy to cook it to snappy crunchy perfection. You don't have to drain it and can immediately dress it in EVOO, butter soy etc. I often add the soy before cooking for extra steam and you can see it cooking away in bubbles of soy sauce vapour.

I cook mushrooms the same way. There are steamy and not sautéed but very delicious. And only cook in 2-3 mins.

Scrambled eggs with chorizo.

Scrambled eggs is something I've cooked in the microwave for years. Cook at full power in 30 second bursts until the eggs begin to curdle up like they do in a pan. Whip the cooked egg in with the raw egg every 30s and stir in some cold butter at the end.

Then I'll microwave some chorizo chunks in EVOO for 1 min and you get a fried chorizo side with a deep red chorizo infused oil to garnish it.

The 1 Litre Pyrex Jug

This thing is a phenom. I started cooking in it because it was my only pyrex dish. But I realised the handle on it was a very similar user experience to the air fryer. You can grab it by the handle to stir, shake and dish up your food from.

Par micro-boiling some tatties before roasting in the air fryer.

My only gripe is that it doesn't had a good lid. Right now I just use one of the saucepan lids that doesn't explode in the microwave on it or a bit of clingfilm.

However I just found out about a 1 litre pyrex jug with a lid. I don't know if the Heat and Cook with the amazing lid is a better buy or not.

The reviews on Amazon say the lid is fine in the microwave. And it would mean you can drain excess water off veggies are steaming. I often forget to drain and dress them in some EVOO and realise it's a watery mess.

What makes a good single purpose robot?

For me it's something that saves me time and energy. But also has a set and forget element to it. The way microwaves and air fryers turn themselves off after the timer dings adds lots of 'I'm not paying attention insurance' and repeatability to cooking healthy food for dinner at home. I love cooking and think my kitchen robots only add joy to the process.

Foot notes

Future experiments

  • I went through a Basque cheesecake phase in February. I can't wait to try cooking one in the microwave