RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
If you go onto YouTube and you type in: How to cook salmon, you will get a lot of very practical, professional instructional videos. But if you keep scrolling and scrolling, eventually you'll get to grainy amateur videos like this one.
(SOUNDBITE OF A YOUTUBE VIDEO)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: All right guys. This kid over here is going to try to cook fish in a dishwasher.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: This isn't just fish. This here is salmon. I only do it fancy around here.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Excuse me, salmon.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: All right.
MARTIN: Samon. OK. Yes, the Internet strongly suggests that you can, indeed, cook salmon in your dishwasher. But of course the Internet is filled with non-truths. So we called up Dan Pashman of sporkful.com to find out what dishwashers can and cannot cook. Hey, Dan.
DAN PASHMAN: Hi, Rachel.
MARTIN: So apparently this trend has been around. But, honestly, I'd never heard of this. I mean explain how one might use a dishwasher to actually cook salmon?
PASHMAN: Well, you're essentially just poaching it. You know, its heat transfer through hot water. You throw some lemon juice and some sort of liquid on the salmon; a little bit of maybe lemon, salt, seasonings. And then wrap it very, very tightly in foil. And this is really the most important thing when cooking in a dishwasher is to seal the food. And that way you can still wash dishes at the same time. And the soap and the dirt from your dishes don't end up on the food. And the food doesn't corrupt the dishes or the dishwasher.
MARTIN: Now, I know you are a serious person, Dan Pashman. But I do not understand the practical utility of this technique. I mean why would you actually want to do this?
PASHMAN: Well, I was wondering the same thing, in fairness, Rachel. And it turns out that if you want to learn more about dishwasher cooking, you have to go to Italy, which is where I went, via Skype.
PASHMAN: I talked to a woman named Lisa Casali who wrote book called "Cucinare in Lavastoviglie," which translates to "Cooking in a Dishwasher."
PASHMAN: So she literally wrote the book on it. And she says for certain recipes you just can't beat the dishwasher.
LISA CASALI: It wasn't just a different way to cook. It was a really particular technique, something that I was looking for, for years; the way to cook at low temperature at home.
PASHMAN: And cites a lot of other benefits. She says its environmentally friendly, 'cause you're running your dishwasher anyway. You just shove little bits of food into the empty nooks and crannies, and it retains all the meat juices. So you're getting every ounce of meaty goodness that you paid for.
MARTIN: All right, so you can do salmon. But I mean, does it work for other dishes?
PASHMAN: I have tried it. I set out to do some experiments and made butter-poached lobster tail in my dishwasher. I had to run it on the heavy duty cycle but it was quite good. My bourbon-poached pears were outstanding. That's the one I would definitely make again. But I have to admit that the Korean beef didn't really cook quite right. The quail egg didn't cook it all and the mussels kind of atrophied.
MARTIN: All right, in the final analysis: Is this actually a good idea. If you have a perfectly well functioning oven, shouldn't you just default to that?
PASHMAN: Well, I guess you're right that there may not be a situation where this is just flat out the best, most convenient way to cook something. But I will say that I do think that this is a fun party trick that actually works. And I can imagine the scene, right? You invite friends over for dinner. They come into your house and there's no food and the sink is full of dirty dishes. And they're like, Rachel...
MARTIN: Sounds great.
PASHMAN: They're light, Rachel, what gives?
MARTIN: Sounds like a real parties at my house, actually.
PASHMAN: See, Rachel? Maybe this is practical. This is perfect for you.
PASHMAN: And everyone says, Rachel, was going on here? And you throw all the dishes in the dishwasher. And you fill that up - all the nooks and crannies with all different foods. Pour a couple of drinks while the dishwasher runs. And you open it up, set the table and dinner is served. And...
MARTIN: Bada-boom, bada-bing.
PASHMAN: That's right. I mean, it's certainly a meal people are going to remember.
MARTIN: Dan Pashman of Sporkful.com. If you want to see Dan actually trying this experiment, there is a video on our website, npr.org.
Thanks so much, Dan.
Thank you, Rachel.