This is my old white LG Electronics microwave. It was one of the first purchases my husband and I made when we first moved in together, 12 years ago. It has travelled between 6 homes, and sat in storage for a few years when we lived overseas. We never had a problem with it, and it heated food just fine. That’s about all we used it for. I know it had a few features, but I only used the heat function and the kitchen timer. Now my old microwave has been replaced with a new shiny LG NeoChef™ and I’m actually using it how it was really intended.
NeoChef Microwave Oven
LG recently introduced the NeoChef microwave oven with Smart Inverter Technology to South Africa, and kindly sent me one to review. Unboxing a new appliance is particularly exciting, and my new microwave is getting noticed by visitors. It has a sleek design with a glass door and integrated control panel, rounded pocket-style handle to the side and the panel guide is hidden behind the door. The dial also presses inwards and outwards to finish off the sleek look. The microwave is compact, but its design allows for increased internal capacity, to fit your large and tall dishes.
This is where we are most on familiar ground – timed cooking. Manually set the time and press start. You can also choose between power levels. High at 1200W will boil water, 1000W will reheat foods, 700W will bake breads, 400W to thaw meat, and 200W to soften butter and take the chill out of fruits (no more toothache). The Smart Inverter over uses linear power control to evenly cook/defrost food, and more efficiently.
I found a super microwave banana pudding recipe which I cooked at 700W in 8 minutes. This recipe is specifically for microwave baking, but I wanted to test if my favourite banana bread recipe would work too. It didn’t. It was edible, but in future I will find more microwave recipes as baking is precise.
Now this is where it gets new for me – grill cooking. Just set the feature to grill and it will brown and crisp food quickly. There is also grill combi cooking which cooks food with heater and microwave.
The microwave oven is preprogrammed to automatically roast. You select the programme, food type and then weight, and it does the rest. I tested this feature out by roasting a nut roast, and can you believe it cooked it in just 17 minutes. And it has the crispy topping. You can soften and melt cheese, butter, ice-cream and chocolate under this function. Defrost and cook in one step, and even make your own yoghurt. The keep warm function will keep hot, cooked food at serving temperature.
The menu has been preprogrammed to automatically cook foods. The popular menu includes meals from across the world, with the recipes in the owner’s manual. So far I have tested the braai-steak and veg biryani, both a hit with hubby. It was the first time we have ever considered cooking a 600g steak in the microwave, but I had to see if it would work. It did, and the steak was cooked through evenly, was tender and juicy. Will it replace a steak done on the braai/barbeque? No, but it was better than any pan-cooked steak we have tried. It cooked quickly on the rack, making it an easy mid-week meal. The only complaint was that the fat did not render as it would over coals.
Next up on the popular menu, was the veg biryani. This meal is not cooked solely in the microwave. I first fried my vegetables and spices, before transferring to a microwave dish. The rice needed to be stirred a few times during cooking and you just have to watch out you don’t burn yourself with the steam. When cooking with a microwave, you still need to use gloves as the food/plates get hot. Also only use microwave-safe utensils. Overall, the biryani cooked quickly, and as I used a ready spice mix, another quick midweek meal to make for the family.
Again, familiar territory for me, as I’m sure you too. You get home, look in the freezer for something to cook, and curse that you didn’t think ahead and defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 4 hours (which you may have done, if you were home 4 hours ago). Select between meat, poultry, fish or bread, turn dial to weight and hit start.
Some more features
- Anti-Bacterial EasyClean™ Coating makes it easy to clean.
- Smart Diagnosis™ function allows the call centre to diagnosis any problems over the phone by listening to the tone emitted by the microwave.
- Child lock feature.
- Stable hexagonal turntable.
- Energy efficient LED lamp is 3x brighter than conventional models.
I’m impressed with the NeoChef microwave. It has made me think differently about my microwave, and I will be using it not just for heating/defrosting, but also to cook family meals and bake. The grill and roast functions have really sold me on it. Unlike my oven, it uses less electricity, doesn’t require pre-heating, easier to clean and doesn’t heat up the kitchen (which will make a difference in hot summer months). Small negatives are that the stainless steel does show finger marks (you can purchase in black), and it doesn’t have my kitchen timer. Even though there are a few recipes in the owner’s manual, I will go to my bookstore to find a recipe book with modern and family friendly microwave recipes. Find out more about the LG range on their website www.lg.com/za.