Alcohol, cooked = Evaporated. Halal? No!

So it’s called flambé -ing. Now I know. (image source)

I admit, I love watching cooking shows, especially the new ones styled after reality-TV. They make me hungry, but it’s still fun to watch. In many segments, the chef/cook will throw a splash of wine in the frying pan and it will seem to burn off almost instantly. Many times I ask myself, if the alcohol burns off, is the food halal?

Short answer: no. Apparently even after cooking for hours, there’ s still some left.

This is a good table (source) showing the length of time cooked and traces of alcohol left in the food. Even after it’s flamed in the frying pan a la celebrity chefs, 25% alcohol still remains.

Alcohol that has been… …has this much ethanol (alcohol) remaining
   added to boiling liquid, then removed from heat
   set on fire, flamed, ‘flambé’
   left uncovered at room temperature, overnight
   baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture
   baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
      for 15 minutes
      for 30 minutes
      for 1 hour (60 minutes)
      for 1.5 hours (90 minutes)
      for 2 hours (120 minutes)
      for 2.5 hours (150 minutes)

And yes, the references checked out. See the USDA report here, page 14. Even Wikipedia has a page dedicated to cooking with alcohol.



8 thoughts on “Alcohol, cooked = Evaporated. Halal? No!

  1. Please do not give fatwas based on your scientific observations. I have heard that if you boil the liguid and 2/3 of it evaporates, it becomes halal. Vallaaho a’lam. But anyways, fiqh is not deduced from internet charts.

  2. Fret not, I’m not qualified to give any fatwa. As one who chooses to abstain from any kind “unnecessary” alcohol consumption, all I’m sharing is that alcohol residue still remains after prolonged cooking. Though do note that Malaysia’s fatwa allows for naturally occurring alcohol by-product of not more than 0.5%.

    Do share your source for the 2/3 evaporation. Thank you.

  3. Chef Wan of Malaysia once proclaimed that any alcohol used in cooking is ‘burnt off’- so the food is halal. I prefer not to listen to this glamorous haji.

  4. I’m no ulama, and I don’t think anyone wants to issue fatwas here. Chef Wan of Malaysia once proclaimed that any alcohol (he was using rice wine then) used in cooking is burnt off, leaving the dish halal. To be sure, I don’t intend to listen this glamorous haji.

  5. intersting discussion! for me the point is rather that the thing, that doesn’t make it halal (even if all alcohol is burnt off) is: Why would a muslim have wine in his kitchen, even if just for cooking? why would i be so desperate to have evaporated wine in my food? What really does it add? I mean, I don’t go collecting bottles of a haram substance (think of the alcohol as a business in general) just so I can add a dash to my stew that I cook, like, every 6 months..isn’t that weird?!?!?

    1. As a chef I can tell you that many recipes require alcohol to get the desired taste that otherwise wouldn’t work without it.

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