You go to a restaurant and on the menu you find a seafood dish that has been cooked with alcohol. The waiter informs you that the alcohol content of this food has been ‘burned off’ by cooking. Is it permissible to eat this seafood? Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali responds to the question regarding the permissibility of cooking food with alcohol and then eating this food.
Question: In a article found on the internet, the question was asked “Does alcohol burn off in cooking”. The question was asked how quickly does alcohol burn off. The article states:
“…James Peterson, a cookbook writer who studied chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, mentioned it in his encyclopedic cookbook, Sauces (Canada, UK). He says you need to cook a sauce for at least 20 to 30 seconds after adding wine to it to allow the alcohol to evaporate. And there is some sense to that, since alcohol evaporates at 172°F (78°C), so any sauce or stew that is simmering or boiling is certainly hot enough to evaporate the alcohol.” See http://www.ochef.com/165.htm
If the alcohol is scientifically proven to be burned off from the food is this food now permissible?
A. In the school of Imam Malik, you can’t cook with najasa, and you can’t cook najasa. Even if you believe the effects of the wine will be burned off, it is not permissible to corrupt the food with najasa. One sure wouldn’t pour urine, feces, blood, or semen on food. (Of course, the taste and smell of wine for many is not as repulsive as those things). I think it’s important we consider another ethical concern. It is a concern like others that often result from fatwas of accommodation. If one gives fatwa allowing one to eat food with wine, this encourages and indirectly validates the sale of wine. All the schools to my knowledge declare it haram to sell grapes to those we know will use them to make wine. To me, the former as a fatwa has similar implications as the latter. Allah knows best.