This moderately stylish microwave pot is easy to handle, store, and clean, plus it can go straight into the fridge with leftovers.
Because of the variables involved, microwave steaming times can vary from Lékué’s instructions. Expect a period of trial and error.
Once you figure out the cook times, this little pot does a fine job steaming grains in the nuker. But for our money, this plastic and silicone bowl-and-lid is overpriced.
A lot of us are trying to eat more grains, but not everybody knows how to cook them efficiently and well. Enter Barcelona-based Lékué, a designer and manufacturer of high-end silicone products since 1980. Its Rice and Grain Cooker is a silicone pot with a plastic lid designed to hold a variety of grains (rice, couscous, quinoa, wheat, barley, oats, buckwheat, and more) as they steam in the microwave oven.
Lékué positions this microwave cook pot as a time saver, since you don’t need to boil water first. It comes in two parts: a white silicone bowl and a green plastic lid, both BPA free. Lékué claims that the design—including the raised divot in the center of the bowl and the perforations in the lid—will keep the contents from boiling over in the microwave. The look is quietly modern and stylish, which is even more reason to bring the bowl directly to the table for serving. It comes with a recipe booklet with simple instructions for cooking seven types of grains, and the bowl and lid are both dishwasher safe.
To test our Lékué, we cooked five different grains: long-grain white rice, brown rice, quinoa, millet, and rolled oats.
Results: We performed several trials with our different grains, varying the volume of each from test to test. Overall, the Lékué did an acceptable job in the microwave. We noticed we had better results with larger amounts of grain, although the pot did just fine with smaller amounts, too, something that can be hard to do on the stovetop.
It was lightweight and easy to handle and store. We found it really easy to clean, even with badly overcooked rice stuck to it.
One big drawback: Lékué’s timing instructions for each grain added up to a big guessing game. The timing is based on an 800-watt microwave, so if you don't know exactly what wattage your microwave is, there’s a learning curve to get the timing right. As it turns out we ended up throwing away most of our experiments, since it took a few tries with each grain to get the timing right. (To be fair, Lékué does suggest checking the water level halfway through cooking and adding more as needed, but in a powerful microwave halfway can be too late: The water will have evaporated and the grain will have started to scorch.)
Keep in mind that some grains take up to 30 minutes to cook. That really heats up the microwave and creates tons of steam, plus it’s irritating to hear the steady drone of the microwave for half an hour.
To sum up: Once you figure out the cook times for the grains in your specific microwave, the Lékué does a fine job. You just need to baby-sit it the first few times. Still, $35 strikes us as too much to spend on a simple silicone and plastic setup like this.
Photos by Chris Rochelle