I use a steel wok on induction. When I weekly check the fan grease trap, there's enough oil to run a 1957 DeSoto through the Nevada desert and still have plenty left over for John Travolta's hair.

When I travelled Asia, the chefs always seemed to douse the food in oil (and stock), and my own impression is that without sufficient oil, it feels as if "nothing's happening" in the pan.

In particular, vegetables like broccoli, seem to absorb oil like there's no tomorrow. I use rapeseed oil and run my wok on 85% of maximum heat, which seems to be the perfect temperature.

My question: How much oil is required for a standard one person wok meal, and how do I make sure the oil goes into the food, not into the fan?

(I'd also appreciate a physical/chemical explanation of why this happens. I assume it's because of the high temperature, that the oil is transported along with the "smoky" streaks from the cooking.)

Update: An important part of the problem is how the Swedish quality fan is constructed: The oil caught in the grease trap will slowly drip down outside the outer edges of the fan screen onto the induction top. Is this a problem with all kitchen fans, or could I solve the problem by replacing it?

  • Little over the top. Oil will vaporize. Even before the smoke point. Just like water will evaporate below the boiling point.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 20:53
  • @paparazzo: That's good to know. Annoying, but good to know.
    – forthrin
    Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 7:43
  • Vaporizing water also tends to pull oil into the air along with it... Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Partial answer to the new formulation:

how do I make sure the oil goes into the food, not into the fan?

You don't. The oil is not supposed to go into the food that's being fried, it should be fried at the temperature where it does not soak through, else it becomes quite unappetizing. It is normal that you get a lot of oily vapor when frying, especially at higher temperatures, you cannot prevent that. A splatter screen is sometimes used, but it is not suitable for wokking, because you can't move the foodd items with it.

As for what is the right amount of oil, I can't help you exactly because I don't do much wokking on my own. But I suppose good temperature control will indeed use up more fat than modern Western cooks tend to use.

There is a related question of a user complaining about oil splatter, and the conclusion is the same: you have to live with it. Good way to prevent grease build up in kitchen?.

  • That's interesting! I never thought of it that way: "The oil is not supposed to go into the food that's being fried". Splatter on the induction top is a minor problem for me. But when your kitchen fan has more excess oil than the gulf of Mexico, you kind of tend to ask yourself what you're doing wrong with your life. If this is just how the food tech works with woking, then I'll just label it as a non-problem and run my grease traps in the dishwasher more often.
    – forthrin
    Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 16:51
  • This might be true for deep frying (where you also tend to use cheap, nasty oil), but for stir frying/stir braising, you do want some of the flavoured oil to be part of the sauce and/or coat the food (or even soak into lean and/or porous ingredients). Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 14:23
  • @rackandboneman good point with the coating. I would still say that lots of fat still sprays out, especially if you are doing a very high temperature stir frying such in a wok. There should be more oil left sticking to the food in a wok than in deep frying, and it is still normal that the amount of vaporized oil is higher than the amount of oil sticking.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 16:22

Oil will vaporize. Even before the smoke point. The smoke point is where the oil begins to break down. Water has no smoke point as it does not start to break down before boiling (and it won't burn). Just like water oil will evaporate below the boiling point.

Oils with a higher smoke point as like to have lower vapor pressure. smoke points

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