A fried allium is the perfect finishing touch. Whether on top of a medium-rare steak, a creamy potato soup, or a gooey bowl of macaroni and cheese (or I guess, a salad or something), fried onions, leeks, garlic and the like provide crispy texture and salty, umami-rich, slightly pungent flavour. In short, they are desirable.
If you too are big on the punchy flavours of onion and garlic, but can’t be bothered to bust out a pan or to commit to any real kind of cooking, we have a hack for you.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, you can nail your allium-prep every single time just by throwing those babies into the microwave.
Not only is cooking them in the microwave a lot more hands-off (no-continuous stirring needed), it frees up stovetop space and it keeps oil splatters under control. The details are slightly different for each food type, but the basic method is the same.
How to cook onion and garlic in the microwave:
Add your sliced allium to a half cup of oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in two-minute increments on full power until they begin to brown, stirring in between.
Once they get a little colour on them, decrease the cooking time to 30 seconds, and continue to cook and stir until they’re a “deep golden”. Transfer your savoury treasures to a paper towel to drain and crisp up, and season with salt.
Though Cook’s Illustrated only mentions leeks, shallots and garlic, I tried this micro-method with a plain ol’ onion and fared quite well. I did, however, find they weren’t quite as crisp as I liked at first, but that was easily fixed by popping them back in the microwave on a fresh paper towel for about 10 seconds. This also worked well for re-crisping after they were stored in the fridge, which means you can pre-batch a bunch of fried alliums, then re-crisp them at your leisure, (and I love a leisurely onion).
If you want more microwave cooking hacks, check out this beauty on making scrambled eggs.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.