Inverter Technology Makes for Friendlier
Panasonic Microwave Fast and Sophisticated
by Jim Bray
Microwaving your food may have taken a whole new direction.
Okay, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but I've just been
messing around with one of Panasonic's nukers that use what they call Inverter
technology, and the results have been nothing less than mouth watering.
The model they sent me was a full size (Panasonic calls it "luxury
size"), 2.2 cubic foot microwave that's easily big enough for the largest
casserole dishes we have; it would probably even hold a Lhasa Apso, if you were
disposed to such disgusting canine-related displays.
Handsome it is, too, with its stainless steel exterior.
Anyway, this $250 culinary creature, model NN-T990SA, is one of
Panasonic's Genius line, which might explain why it's so smart. My family's
older Panasonic is adequate, but compared to this new one it must have been
from the company's Moron line.
Featuring 1,300 watts of power and a big 16" turntable, the
nuker's real claim to fame is Inverter cooking. To quote Panasonic "With the
energy-saving Inverter technology, foods defrost evenly and 49% faster, and
they no longer undercook in the center or have hard-overcooked edges. Even
delicate foods can simmer without overcooking on surface or edges." So
theoretically there'll be no hot or cold spots and no disgusting clumps in your
I didn't actually test the 49% figure, but the appliance is
definitely fast and powerful.
And it appears to work as advertised. I started off with one of
the recipes in the owner's manual to see what was up. It was for a tuna/pasta
casserole (we live life to the fullest in our household!) and not only was it
as delicious as a casserole can be, it was cooked evenly all over and through,
just like the ads say. Fast, too!
Now, I didn't use the microwave to actually cook the pasta; I'm
not that brave! Rather, I cooked it the usual way, in a pot on the stove, then
mixed the whole shebang together and stuck it into the nuker. From there, it
was just a matter of pressing the "Dinner" button until the abbreviation for
"Casserole" came up, pressing "Start," and then wandering off to find a cat to
harass while supper cooked.
I was so impressed I tried my late mother's macaroni and cheese
casserole next, though again I cooked the pasta and made the sauce the normal
way, and the Panasonic cooked the resulting mix beautifully in about ten
Even better, my wife was late coming home from winning the family
bread that day, so I had a chance to use the microwave's "keep warm" feature.
I'm happy to report it works just fine, so rather than offering a crestfallen
spouse a cold hunk of orange-colored stuff, we sat down to a steaming meal
about half an hour after it was cooked. And it was still as if it were just
freshly made, with no sign of crusting or overcooking.
The control panel's a tad intimidating, but if you keep the manual
on hand you'll get by okay.
Panasonic's One-Touch Sensor Cooking features 18 Categories of
food, including breakfast, side dish, dinner, and lunch/snack. When cooking the
casseroles, I didn't even have to tell it how many servings I had made (good
thing, 'cause the rest of the world's idea of a serving doesn't always match
mine); I just found that casserole setting and pressed Start.
Defrosting works really well, too. You press the Inverter Turbo
Defrost button and key in the approximate weight of the chunk of ice you want
to turn into a kitchen masterpiece, then hit start. When I used this for hot
dog buns that in my own microwave tend to come out looking like sections of a
baseball bat, this Inverter thingy really did the job.
Let's see, you also get One-Touch Sensor Reheat, that
abovementioned Keep Warm Key, which has 5 Categories of food it'll refuse to
ruin including stew, gravy, casseroles, mashed potatoes and pie.
Naturally, it also does popcorn and you can manually set the time
and power settings if you want.
Unfortunately, my time with the Panasonic was all too short and I
didn't have a chance to try as wide a variety of delicacies as I'd have liked,
but this definitely appears to be a microwave to be reckoned with.
Now you're cookin'!
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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