I do a lot of microwave cooking and was looking for a good microwave steamer pot.
Before I bought a steamer, I did my research. There were certain criteria it had to meet.
- It shouldn't cost too much. A cheap one was fine with me.
- It needed to be easy to carry. The arthritis in my hands makes holding stuff difficult.
- It should be versatile enough to do vegetables and grains. Pasta would be an added plus.
- It shouldn't be heavy.
- It should have very few parts.
- It should be easy to clean.
I Needed to Replace My Microwave Steamer
As a vegan, I go through a lot of grains and vegetables. I want to eat healthy, but as a disabled person I can't stand very well. Cooking over the stove is almost impossible. I use the microwave to make my meals as it's easier on me and it helps speed things up. The microwave keeps me from eating poorly.
A microwave steamer is indispensable if you plan to cook in the microwave on a regular basis. I bought one several years ago and it's worked out great.
Sometimes we must put our faithful old appliances to rest. My previous one served up many rice and steamed vegetables dishes over the years. But, it was old. There were scratches everywhere. It had discolored. Frankly, it looked gross. It was time to replace it.
I did some research online to see if I could find something similar. I really wanted the same one, but that was impossible. It's no longer available for sale.
After many comparisons, I settled on a simple one that could do rice, grains, and pasta. Let's see how that all worked out, shall we?
Saying Goodbye to My Old Steamer
I loved this hunk o' plastic. I bought it over 10 years ago from a catalog. It was solidly made and cooked evenly. I could make grains and vegetables with ease.
It came with two different steamer pots, two lids, and a basket. The small steamer was first to go, followed by the basket. But, I kept the big steamer for several years after that.
Now it's scratched up and yellowed inside. It shows the wear and tear from being used many, many times. I probably should have replaced it long ago.
I Chose the Nordic Ware Steamer
I decided to go with the Nordic Ware Rice Cooker. I was looking for something large enough to make several cups of grains and vegetables. I wanted it to be easy to hold, but not flimsy. It had to be easy to clean. And, I was looking for something less than $20.
The Nordic Ware pot fits all my needs. It's versatile. It can steam and cook. You can store your food in it in the fridge.
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It's got an eight-cup capacity. You can cook a couple of cups of rice and vegetables with no problem. It can be used with the steamer basket or without.
All the parts are removable. This makes it much easier to clean. You don't have to worry about grain grit or steam being stuck up under the pieces.
Best of all, it fit my price range. Can't beat that, now can you?
First Test Run: Brown Rice
My first experiment in my microwave steamer was with brown rice which I turned into a pilaf with vegetables.
These are the instructions that came with the steamer:
- Rinse 1 cup of rice in the basket.
- Put the rice in the steamer.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
- Secure lid with side clamps and open vent holes on lid.
- Microwave on medium setting for 18-20 minutes.
- Let stand for 5 minutes with lid fastened.
- Fluff with fork and enjoy.
I cooked 1 cup of brown rice going by the instructions. What I found was that it was partially done at 18 minutes. I ended up adding extra water and cooking it for another 10 minutes on medium. It came out fine, fluffed well, and was delicious.
I am more inclined to follow the directions, then add more water at 18 minutes, and cook another 10 minutes. I'm afraid that if I cook it for 28-30 minutes straight it might stick to the bottom, especially if it runs out of water.
Test 2: Basmati Rice
I love basmati rice—I like it more than any other type. Let's see how my experiment went.
The box of rice had instructions for cooking in the microwave:
- Rinse rice before cooking.
- Add rice and 2 1/2 cups of water to pot.
- Cover and microwave for 5 minutes.
- Reset the microwave to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff rice and serve.
I decided to cook the whole box per instructions as it only makes 4 servings. I follow the instructions except for stopping the microwave at 10 minutes to check to make sure the water level was okay. I added a little bit of water, then continued cooking it for another 10 minutes.
The rice turned out really well. It was just the right texture. It wasn't sticky or mush. I loved it!
Cooking With a Microwave Steamer
It can be challenging getting this to cook right in the microwave. I had a heck of a time figuring out how to cook baby carrots. (Hint: Cook them with other vegetables and put them on the bottom of the bowl in the water.) Some things work perfectly, others don't. Some come out fine once you finesse them a bit.
With a little patience, you can make all sorts of dishes in the microwave. If you need help figuring out where to start, this handy guide provides tips on how to use the microwave for best advantage. It also shows you how to convert a recipe from the stove or oven to the microwave.
There are several recipes and they're pretty interesting. I'd like to try the lasagna. That sounds almost impossible for the microwave!
Test 3: Pasta
The booklet that came with my microwave steamer had instructions for cooking pasta. I've never had good luck cooking pasta in the microwave, so I wanted to give this a try.
These are the instructions for cooking pasta:
- Remove basket and lid.
- Pour 2 cups of uncooked noodles into the bottom of the cooker.
- Add 2 1/2 cups of water.
- Microwave on high setting 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.
- Remove from microwave, stir noodles, secure lid and lock clamps. Close vent holes. Let stand for 3-4 minutes.
I was a little reticent to cook the pasta for the full 10 minutes without a lid. As I was using alternative grain pasta (quinoa) I was concerned that it might not cook correctly. So, I modified the directions a bit.
The first three steps were the same. Then:
4. Microwave on high setting for 5 minutes. Stir the pasta. Add water if necessary.
5. Microwave on high for another 5 minutes.
6. Remove pot from microwave. Stir pasta. Secure lid, lock side clamps, and close air vent holes. Let stand for 5 minutes.
When I opened the pot, my pasta looked good and the texture was perfect. It tasted good, too!
Test 4: Quinoa
As my four-page instruction booklet didn't tell me how to cook quinoa, I had to figure it out for myself. I tried to go on previous experience and hoped for the best.
These are the instruction I found online:
- Rinse 1 cup of quinoa under cold water.
- Place in the pot with 1 1/4 cup of water. Cover loosely.
- Cook for 3 minutes, stir, then cook for another 3 minutes.
I rinsed one cup of quinoa as always. This removes the grittiness that can accompany this grain if it isn't rinsed before cooking.
Next, I combined the quinoa and 1 1/4 cup of water in the steamer. I covered it with the lid and opened the steamer vents.
The cook times online didn't seem right to me. Quinoa usually takes 10 minutes on the stove. So, I microwaved it for 5 minutes to start.
I checked on the quinoa, stirred it, and put it in for another 5 minutes. I let it stand for 5 more minutes and it checked it. It was the perfect consistency.
I'm quite pleased with this pot. I've cooked grains and vegetables. Everything I've cooked in has come out as planned. You would not know if the food had been cooked in the microwave or on the stove.
The capacity is just what I want. I can cook a cup of dry grain easily. I can mix pilaf with a cup or two of peas and vegetables and it all fits easily.
The parts are easy to remove for cleaning. Big plus! I don't like when stuff gets caught in cracks and holes and you have no way of removing them.
My only complaint is that the handles are a bit loose. They pop off sometimes. They are easy to snap back on. Still, it's a little annoying.
That's really my only complaint. It actually performs better than my old one, so I'm not missing it at all!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my review. I hope this information is helpful!
© 2013 Melody Lassalle