Influencer Emily Mariko’s ice-in-microwave hack leaves people in awe. I consulted an expert and put it to the test. Collage: VICE / Images: Koh Ewe
But Y Tho explores a plethora of funny, weird, and peculiar trends to provide long-sought answers to the questions that roamed all of our heads.
In her viral TikTok recipe, influencer Emily Mariko crushes salmon fillets and buries them under a blanket of rice. The next step has most people baffled. She places an ice cube on the rice and covers the plate with a sheet of parchment paper, before putting it in the microwave. When she retrieves the plate from the microwave, the ice seems intact. She takes it from the rice and throws it.
The rest of the video continues with Mariko’s iconic ASMR cups, as if boiling ice cubes in the microwave is as mundane as boiling water on the stove. But people just couldn’t get over this unusual microwave trick – and the fact that it was apparently one thing.
His salmon rice recipe, released on September 29, along with other food prep videos shared around the same time, including a peach cobbler and breakfast toast, catapulted the TikToker to viral fame. . Its number of subscribers would have increased from approximately 452,900 to more than 5 million in the space of a month. At the time of writing, the salmon rice video has been viewed nearly 32 million times.
Soon people were experimenting with microwave ice cubes and posting their attempts to TikTok, marveling at how slowly the ice seemed to melt in a microwave. Articles have been written to address food piracy, while others have tried to explain the science behind it.
Like these people, I had questions: Why do people microwave ice cream with their food? Why does the ice cream not seem to melt in the microwave?
I made a bowl of ice cubes and microwaved it for 30 seconds, collecting my bowl with half-melted ice cubes. OK, so the ice cream melts in the microwave, but not as fast as you might expect from a device that can reheat food in seconds.
“Ice doesn’t melt like most people think in a microwave,” Jason Latimer, magician and science teacher, told VICE. Latimer runs Impossible Sciences, an educational program that introduces young people to scientific concepts through domestic experiences.
Latimer explained that microwaves create heat by exciting water molecules with higher energy.
“Heat is generated in the water of your food, but then conducts it to all foods,” he said.
When it comes to ice, however, the water molecules are held in place, unable to respond to microwaves. In this state, they cannot absorb energy and generate heat.
“It’s also why frozen foods don’t cook the same way as non-frozen foods when you use the microwave. The water molecules in frozen foods just can’t turn and absorb microwave energy, ”Latimer said.
After finding out why ice does not appear alarmingly (somehow) affected in the microwave, it was time to test how ice cube would improve food. And of course, I started with the obvious recipe: salmon rice.
This whole microwave ice cream experience wouldn’t be complete if I hadn’t at least tried Mariko’s famous salmon rice. The recipe seemed simple, mixing an intriguing mix of ingredients – rice, salmon, Kewpie mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, and avocado – which combined to form a delicious mess.
I happened to have some leftover rice in my fridge, so I split the rice into two portions – one to go with an ice cube and one without – put them on a mashed salmon and hit the start button of my microwave.
On the plate without ice, the rice came out hot but quite dry – something I would have found decent enough to eat as a home cooked meal. But when the second plate came out of the microwave, wrapped in parchment paper with an ice cube still resting on the rice, it made the first unglazed plate taste like a barren desert.
With the help of an ice cube, the leftover rice became hot and fluffy, as if it were freshly cooked. I immediately understood the hype, as well as the reason people were frantically putting ice cubes in the microwave.
Latimer helped break the science behind this seemingly magical kitchen hack.
“The rice contains a little bit of water, and as the rice heats up, it slowly melts the ice cube,” he said. “The small amount of water is heated by the microwave, turning into steam, which then slowly steams the rice.”
I ended up mixing the two portions together, following the rest of Mariko’s recipe for making the salmon rice. Served with intensely mouth-watering colors and a kick of umami, it took me a bite to decide that the viral salmon rice certainly wasn’t an overrated plate of leftovers.
After watching Lizzo do it on TikTok, I balanced an ice cube on half a cupcake, covered it with baking paper, and microwaved it.
The chocolate cupcake came out heavenly sweet, with the ice cube noticeably smaller. One bite and I felt like I was eating a whole cloud. I nibbled enthusiastically until I reached the center, where the ice cube was placed. This part had become completely mushy from the humidity. It was still edible (I think), but I liked it a lot less.
Surprisingly, the other half of the cupcake, which didn’t get the ice cream treatment, tasted almost as good. It was a little less chewy, I admit, but I appreciate that he didn’t put all the mashed potatoes in me. Personally, I like my cupcakes that are a bit firmer and without a soggy center.
I had a bao (Chinese bun) which had been in the fridge for a few days and had become a bit dry. I had bought it from a newly opened bakery, won over by its cute appearance, and quickly forgot about it. But at least it turned out to be a valuable addition to my microwave ice cream experience—an ice cube could seriously improve the mouth feel of the dried out bun, I was thinking.
Slicing it in half to reveal a thick sweet potato paste in the middle, I microwaved half a bao with ice cream and the other half without.
After 30 seconds in the microwave, the unembellished bao came out sweet and steamy. I wasn’t sure how he had managed to summon moisture – given the dryness of his two day condition – but I was proud that my bao had a plump finish.
The bao that was paired with an ice cube and then covered with parchment paper turned out to be quite similar to my chocolate cupcake, but even soggy.
While the parts of the bread that were not in contact with the ice cube remained intact, the parts that were were absolutely soaked – by that I mean it looked like a sink sponge. I pinched a small piece of the bun and squeezed it a bit and water ran through my fingers. I polished the dry parts of the bun but couldn’t bring myself to eat the soggy bits.
A Chinese dumpling made from minced meat surrounded by a pleated yellow wrapper, siu mai is a dim sum staple that can also be found in the frozen section of my local supermarket. I put a frozen siu mai in the microwave and found it came out smoking even without ice cubes. It was also bouncy and wet, which made for a satisfying bite.
Since siu mai is usually steamed, I thought it might benefit from the extra moisture from the ice cubes in the microwave. Pairing another siu mai with an ice cube, I covered both with parchment paper and turned on the microwave.
This time, the siu mai emerged perched in a yellowish puddle. It wasn’t the most appetizing sight, but I knew I had to hold my judgment until I tasted it.
Despite being surrounded by water, the siu mai was strangely not wet. However, the ice cube didn’t add much to its texture, as the dumpling tasted pretty much the same as the unglazed version. It turns out that ice cream isn’t necessary for a siu mai to come out of the microwave tasting absolutely delicious.
Bonus Round: Ice Cream
I don’t know what I was expecting with this one, but since I had matcha ice cream in the fridge, I was curious how it would go in the microwave. It was partly ice, after all.
On TikTok, some people explain how they microwave their ice cream to make it melt and soft. Mine, however, came out a puddle of algae.
It didn’t seem like the most appetizing thing, so I tried to sip it like it was good soup. Except it wasn’t really good (if you’ve ever tasted hot ice cream I’m so sorry you had to go through it). I ended up pouring half of it reluctantly, wasting perfectly delicious scoops of matcha ice cream.
At the end of my little cooking experience, it seemed like Mariko’s microwave ice cream hack only worked on certain foods, like rice. As I have learned, whether or not an ice cube improves the taste of your food depends on factors such as how dry your food was previously, how evenly the ice would hydrate your food, and how dry it was. humidity that you prefer your food to be.
I would choose a slightly drier cupcake over a soft one with a moist medium any day, but I’m also pretty sure my yuck is someone’s yum.
Instead of the ice cube trick, some people suggest that you lightly wet a paper towel and place it on your food instead. I usually sprinkle a little water on foods that have dried out and have found that to do the trick, too.
But I get it, letting an ice cube turn your leftover dinner into freshly steamed rice definitely sounds more fun.
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