This Instructable grew out of my kids love for broccoli. Well, a special kind of broccoli. Whenever we would get dinner from the local Chinese restaurant, the kids could not eat enough of the broccoli that came with the meal. The bright green color, the crispy crunch, the sweet taste, it was hard not to understand why they would devour every last "little tree" in the tray. But, make it at home and they would turn up their nose to it. After a little experimenting, I found a way I could make a restaurant equivalent at home with little more than a bowl and a wet paper towel.
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools Needed
For this Instructable, you will need the following items:
- microwave-safe bowl (cereal bowl or larger)
- broccoli, as much as you can fit into the bowl you are using (or make multiple batches)
- a paring knife or similar small bladed implement
- cutting board
- paper towel
- microwave oven
- a small child to enjoy the broccoli (inner children do not count)
For the uninitiated, broccoli heads should be purchased and used as soon as possible. The heads (florets) should be bright green or even a shade of purple and be tightly bunched together. Any evidence of yellow flowers means the head is past its prime. The stalks should be firm and not too soft or rubbery.
Step 2: Prep the Florets
Begin by holding the broccoli heads by the base of the stalk and rinsing the florets under cold running water to remove any loose plant parts, dirt, and sand. Give them a firm shake afterward and lay them out on a towel. Taking your paring knife, slip the blade between the stalk and the first branch of the floret and slice to remove. Continue until all the florets are removed from the main stalk. DO NOT THROW OUT THE STALK. Cut any florets larger than bite size in half. DO NOT THROW OUT THE STALK. Place the florets into the bowl.
Once more, with feeling: DO NOT THROW OUT THE STALK. As far as I am concerned, the stalk contains the most flavorful part of the broccoli. But we have been trained by legions of grandmothers and mothers to think that this is only good for the compost heap or, at best, soup. Hate to break up the party, Scruffy, but Gam-Gam was WRONG.
Step 3: Prep the Stalks
Slice the base of the stalk off and then grab the knife in one hand with thumb extended, much like you would to peel an apple. Carefully shave the stalk free of any woody portions, leaving you with the soft, green-white interior. This is the magic. After tasting this, I won't fault you for keeping it all to yourself.
Cut this into half inch wide slices. Add to the bowl.
Step 4: Add Water
By now, your bowl should be looking pretty similar to mine (though not completely similar, because then I'd have to worry you were stalking me and bought the same dishes as I, which would just be plain creepy).
Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the bowl. Yes, this is really all you need to make it happen.
Soak a paper towel with water and drape it over the bowl. You can either tuck the loose edges of the towel in or just leave them loose, as long as you make a reasonably complete seal over the whole bowl.
Step 5: To the Nuker!
While the microwave has been seen for decades as the source of mediocre food, the one thing the microwave is exceptional at is steaming. This is why the broccoli can turn out tender-crisp and delicious in less time than it takes to boil water for the old school method.
Take your towel-covered bowl and place it into the microwave. If you like your broccoli very crisp, you can set it to cook on high for two minutes. If you like it a little more tender, add a minute. You may have to tinker with the time on your individual microwave to get it just the way you want it. NOTE: the broccoli for this Instructable was cooked using a 1200 watt oven.
Step 6: Make a Child! (optional)
While adults can certainly enjoy this healthy treat, having a child around who is old enough to appreciate your handiwork makes it all the better. Go out and find a mate!
NOTE: This Instructable is only concerned with the microwave steaming of edible members of the Brassica family. Finding a fertile mate who will respond to your varied attempts at social interactions including but not limited to awkward pickup lines, poor attempts at flirting, purchases of alcoholic beverages and outright begging may result in negative and unforeseen consequences. Excessive consumption of broccoli may intensify these consequences. Use broccoli, knives, microwaves and children only with adult supervision.