Does Emily Mariko’s Viral Salmon Bowl Ice Cube Hack Really Work?

A recipe developer shares her thoughts on the TikTok sensation.

October 05, 2021

Microwave hacks are nothing new, but the latest trick going viral on TikTok has millions of people across the globe interested because it really revolutionizes the whole reheating game.

The buzz began late last month when TikTok user Emily Mariko, who goes by @emilymariko, shared her “Best lunch of the week!” Said meal was made with a leftover piece of salmon she shredded with a fork, leftover white rice, a drizzle of soy sauce, sriracha and Kewpie mayonnaise, avocado slices, seaweed pieces and a small plate of kimchi on the side.

However, the key to this superior salmon bowl is what Mariko did after adding the salmon and rice to her plate. Before tossing the other ingredients into her DIY salmon bowl, the Bay Area-based lifestyle influencer took a single ice cube out of her freezer, nestled it among the rice and wrapped the whole thing in parchment paper prior to microwaving it.

What emerged was a perfectly reheated plate of salmon and rice with the ice cube still largely intact. Mariko then removed the parchment paper and threw out what was left of the ice cube before continuing to make her meal.

Though Mariko doesn’t utter a word during the TikTok, which has now amassed more than 42 million views, the implication is that by reheating her meal with an ice cube and covering it, the result was a moist, evenly heated dish. The hack became so popular that singer Lizzo, who is a TikTok star in her own right, even tried it when reheating a cupcake in the microwave.

And while some TikTok hacks don’t do much, Food Network Recipe Developer Amanda Neal explains that this microwave trick is (mostly) the real deal.

“It works very well for reheating rice and other grains because the ice cube, along with the sheet of wax or parchment paper, creates steam in the microwave, which in turn warms the rice and reintroduces moisture so that it stays tender and fluffy,” she says. “Unfortunately, this hack does not work for other food items (like cupcakes) because it will make already moist food items soggy; sorry Lizzo!”

If you’re not into putting an ice cube on top of your food, Neal says there are other ways to reheat meals evenly and well. “Reheat in intervals,” she advises. “Cook in 30-second to 1-minute intervals, stirring liquids and rotating or flipping solids in between for even reheating. This will make sure the dish maintains the flavor you loved the first time around while not overheating.”

Another microwave hack Neal approves of? Spreading your food in an even layer to make sure everything reheats at the same rate. “Arrange foods in a single even layer on your plate to ensure the waves from the microwave have an equal opportunity to warm each part of your meal,” she explains. She also points out that reheating any leftovers on the correct type of dish or plate is key to making sure things go off without a hitch. “Be sure to transfer leftovers to the best dish for the job, such as microwave-safe ceramic or glass bowls and plates,” she adds.

And for those of you (ahem, like me) who can never seem to reheat pizza without creating an overly soggy or burnt mess, Neal has advice for that too. “It’s best to avoid the microwave all together when reheating pizza. While the microwave provides fast results, your pizza will most likely become soggy and chewy,” she explains. “Try reheating pizza in an oven or an air fryer! This will reheat the sauce and cheese while keeping the crust crisp and golden.”

Now please excuse me while I go purchase an air fryer!

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