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Old 04-27-2017, 09:09 AM   #1
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Adding tinned tomatoes to preheated oil

Hi all,

Recently, I was following a recipe for a curry. However, I became nervous when the recipe instructed that I should add a can of tinned chopped tomatoes to a couple of tbsps worth of preheated oil. The reason for my concern is that tinned chopped tomatoes are very watery. It seems like I'm just going to start a fire if I tip a can of chopped tomatoes into hot oil!

I'm very nervous around heated oil these days, because in the past I added some frozen veg to preheated sunflower oil (so stupid in hindsight I know). Even though it was a very small quantity of oil, and only a little veg, the flames were rather big.. and a little scary...

In the end, I added the chopped tomatoes to the oil, whilst it was still cold. I think the quality of the dish suffered from this. So, am I being paranoid here? Or am I missing something? Finally, has anyone done something like this? Advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 04-27-2017, 09:21 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking

It will be fine. Don't overheat the oil - it shouldn't be smoking - and pour the tomatoes carefully rather than just dumping them in. I think it was the large difference in temperature between the frozen vegetables and hot oil that caused the problem before, although I'm surprised it caused a fire. I imagine the hot oil expanded rapidly when you added them, so maybe some of it splattered out of the pan and onto the stove?

Anyway, just be careful and it will be fine.
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Old 04-27-2017, 09:27 AM   #3
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Heated oil fires

This is one of the reasons that I tend to use a wok for this type of cooking. You simply slide the ingredients down the side. No splashing occurs.
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Old 04-27-2017, 09:47 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking

It will be fine. Don't overheat the oil - it shouldn't be smoking - and pour the tomatoes carefully rather than just dumping them in. I think it was the large difference in temperature between the frozen vegetables and hot oil that caused the problem before, although I'm surprised it caused a fire. I imagine the hot oil expanded rapidly when you added them, so maybe some of it splattered out of the pan and onto the stove?

Anyway, just be careful and it will be fine.
Thanks for the welcome GotGarlic! The frying pan I was using was rather wide, so I doubt anything caught the stove. However, the sunflower oil I was using before was VERY low quality. So I imagine that didn't help. When I added the veg it did smoke heavily and bubble before catching fire. So I think your theory about rapid expansion is pretty plausible. I guess I'll just have to take the leap of faith next time then.

As for using a wok, I think that is probably a good shout. Thanks guys
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Old 04-27-2017, 10:54 AM   #5
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Drain the tomatoes first
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:06 AM   #6
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Welcome to DC, ddw...
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Old 04-27-2017, 12:08 PM   #7
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Adding water to hot oil causes spattering as the liquid water quickly turns to gas (steam). This should tend to cool the oil, as it takes energy (heat) for the phase transformation. No reason to cause a fire, unless the spattered oil hits a hot burner. Dumping all of a can of watery tomatoes will cause a lot of spattering, though. Frozen veggies will produce a lot of water over a longer period of time as they thaw. As others have said, don't heat the oil quite so hot, and add watery ingredients slowly.
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Old 04-27-2017, 07:26 PM   #8
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To add stuff to hot oil without splashing, hold the bowl of a big spoon down near the surface of the oil, and pour your stuff on the spoon and let it slide off. I would also drain most of the water/juices off, as already mentioned.

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Old 04-28-2017, 06:33 AM   #9
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There are sauces in Mexican (red and green chili) and Cuban (mojo) that require adding it to hot oil. You do so "off the heat", which eliminates the flare up, but you still have to be careful about the spatter.
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Old 04-28-2017, 07:12 AM   #10
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Keep a cover next to your stove to cover the pan in the event of a fire. I always have a lid handy every time I pull out the saute pan. Then I start cooking.

Drain the tomatoes first. Add the juice after if it is a component of the flavor of the dish.
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Old 04-28-2017, 01:43 PM   #11
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Wow, I was not expecting so much good advice and such a warm welcome from everybody! Thank you so much everybody. I really appreciate it :) . So far, my battle plan is to drain the tomatoes, take the pan off the heat, add the tomatoes, get a big spoon to stop splattering, then finally have lid on standby just in case. Sounds good to me.

Thanks again to all off you, I'm sure I'll be asking questions again in future!
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Old 04-28-2017, 01:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daydreamingwill View Post
Wow, I was not expecting so much good advice and such a warm welcome from everybody! Thank you so much everybody. I really appreciate it :) . So far, my battle plan is to drain the tomatoes, take the pan off the heat, add the tomatoes, get a big spoon to stop splattering, then finally have lid on standby just in case. Sounds good to me.

Thanks again to all off you, I'm sure I'll be asking questions again in future!
It's good to hear that you are going to stick around for all the fun and information you will receive. And lots of laughs. Great times ahead for you.
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