One of my favourite recipes calls for a 3cm piece of ginger peeled and grated. The recipe asks that I heat some vegetable oil in a hot wok, then fry the ginger for 30 seconds before adding the meat and, later, the rest of the ingredients.

I am, I'm sure, a fairly lazy chef. I don't tend to buy fresh ginger root and instead I buy this: Bart's Ginger in Sunflower Oil.

When I add the ginger to the oil it has will always, without fail, transform into a roiling, spitting, volcano of fury. Small pieces of extremely hot ginger/oil will fly all over my hob and land, more often than not, somewhere on my skin.

Is this normal, and how can I avoid it? I presume it is affected by the following factors:

  • The heat of the wok is too low/high
  • There is too much vegetable oil in the wok
  • The wok is not the right size (maybe uneven heat distribution?). Not confident about this.

However, it actually only occurred to me recently that the fact that the ginger I buy is in sunflower oil could be a contributing factor.

  • 1
    I call this the "storming a Medieval castle" experience for how you get splashed with hot oil. It's a good reason for telling other people to stand back when you're cooking with oil.
    – BobMcGee
    Jul 27, 2012 at 14:13
  • 1
    I have taken to using the wok lid as a makeshift shield. I am this close to purchasing gauntlets and a helmet.
    – Andy F
    Jul 27, 2012 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


This is more likely due to the other ingredients in the paste (sugar, citric acid, vinegar and salt; mainly the vinegar) hitting the hot oil. It's the same reason you never throw water on a frier fire. Oil and water/vinegar don't mix!

You can avoid it by not being lazy and using fresh ginger, which is much nicer anyway, or adding the ginger to the oil before it gets too hot.

  • 1
    You might also be able to avoid it by draining or squeezing the paste to get rid of some of the liquid before using it, at the cost of some of the flavor.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 27, 2012 at 15:59
  • Yes, that sounds most likely. I will give fresh ginger a go next time.
    – Andy F
    Jul 27, 2012 at 19:03

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