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Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Hi all,

So I've heard that when cooking (sauteing, roasting), using extra virgin olive oil is abit of a waste because the heat destroys the flavor of the oil, which has a low smoke point. On many cooking shows, however, I see many of the chefs using evoo regardless (except for Ming Tsai, who seems to use alot of grapeseed oil.)

I mostly use grapeseed and canola for cooking. Sometimes I use evoo for coating vegetables before roasting, but I feel this may be abit of a waste as well.

What do you all think?

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  1. I use EVOO for everything except deep fat frying--even things you're not supposed to use it for like wiping out cast iron pans after cleaning. I buy the Fairway house brand by the gallon and refill a cruet that sits on my counter; it's to hand, so it's what I reach for. I do have a more refined, much more expensive EVOO that I use for some salads and for dipping, but other than that it's the Fairway EVOO all the way.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Me too! As a matter of fact I am not sure I even have another type of oil in the house right now. My standard is Costco brand from spain, and my 'better' one is an unfiltered olive oil that I lugged back from a Spanish farm.

      An egg fried in evoo? Pure bliss!

      1. re: JoanN

        I agree. Since the availability and low price of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I won't concede to La Ray) at Costco, I use no other oil for cooking.

        I only have canola oil on hand for baking.

        I don't fry anymore, sadly.

        1. re: dolores

          I have been abbreviating Extra Virgin Olive Oil as EVOO on my recipe cards for 25 years.

      2. Ming Tsai is very specfic in his ingredient use, he has a child with major food allergies. He is a educator on the business for chefs to include rather than exclude. I understand that each recipe in his place has a printed recipe card fro patrons to view if they request to check for allergies.
        Grapeseed oil may figure into that.

        I tasted my first EVOO in Spain on a 2 week vacation, became used to "green" mayo. I wish I had that EVOO to cook with each time. I know whenI die and go to heaven, one of the dishes on my table will be tiny clams baked in fresh EVOO served with mounds of bread to sop up with!

        1. I think EVOO for everything is basically just a trend. And it's sort of sloppy cooking, in my humble opinion: if you are just adding EVOO automatically to everything, you're not really thinking about the flavor profile of your dish. Should everything that comes out of your kitchen really taste like EVOO?

          I use EVOO for probably 70 percent of my oil use, but I also use grapeseed oil for when I want something really neutral, and for some high-heat applications, and for some "American" dishes and all Mexican dishes, I use corn oil. I hate Canola oil -- I won't have it in my kitchen -- like a lot of people, I find it has an unpleasantly fishy taste, even at room temperature.

          Edited to add that I agree with fourunder -- TV chefs are just using it for the cachet value of looking like they only use the oil that's perceived to be "the best" -- it's intellectually lazy, because they don't have to actually try to educate people about how to use and choose oils. "EVOO on everything!" is a cop out for them.

          1. Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not only a waste, but too strong to use for many dishes,

            It's amusing to me you started this thread. Just yesterday, I made comments similar to this in my suggestions to another for the use of Olive Oil by celebrity chefs. One notable celebrity chef states on his show he only deep fries in Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well........and I commented only one word comes to mind for me...........Liar. My feelings are many media chefs state to only use what is perceived to be only the best ingredients so quality is not compromised and add luster to their reputations. My thoughts are, It is always easy to spend other peoples money. With the prices of Olive Oils increasing every day, There is no shame in economizing or altering your cooking preparations. In fact, using less neutral oils is actually better suited for many different types of cooking or recipe preparations. Using Olive Oils in Asian cooking is not preferred and making some types of coleslaws are better suited with Canola or vegetable oils. Naturally it all comes down to your own preference

            For pan searing and cooking on the grill, I'm with you and I use Canola or vegetable oil. Roasting in the oven, depends on the dish and the browning I wish to achieve, n.g., for turkeys, I prefer butter to brown. The only time I do use Olive Oil is when I want to retain the oils in a dish, e.g., roasted vegetables or hot peppers. I will add additional Olive Oil to the finished dishes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fourunder

              Actually, now that you mention it, I realize I do use peanut oil when cooking Chinese dishes.

            2. When the trend first started for using olive oils, in North America, beyond that of the ethnic cooks who already knew how to use the oils, I recall there were experts from those ethnicities, remarking on the different uses of olive oil as opposed to extra virgin olive oil. They all seemed to agree that regular olive oil was for cooking and evoo (geez, I hate that term, and here I am, using it) is best for salads.


              1. I'd like to see if I can resurrect this thread to get some more input. I've been wondering about this lately myself and wonder whether Italians, Spaniards and Greeks, for example, use extra virgin olive oil (I can't bring myself to abbreviate this one!) for sauteeing or do they use regular olive oil. I realize that the best extra virgin olive oils should not be used for high heat. So many of those big discount containers of extra virgin just are low quality oils, i.e. the olives are stored way too long before pressing or the oil is old, for example and then there is the issue of adulterated oils. I'd love to know what people who live in the countries where olive oil has traditionally been produced do.

                3 Replies
                1. re: suse

                  My sister and her Italian friends/family, who live in Florence but are from all different parts of Italy, use extra virgin oil in almost all their cooking. They get their oil from small producers outside the city, in big unmarked bottles. However, I've seen a couple of people use peanut oil for deep frying. They had to go out and buy it because they didn't keep it in the house.

                  By the way, you may have read recently about how a lot of the "olive oil" exported from Italy isn't from Italy, and sometimes isn't even olive oil, but other types of oil adulterated with coloring and flavoring. Something to keep in mind. Look for the DOP label, and don't shun delicious Greek or Spanish oils!

                  And just my $.02 for the general conversation: If you like the way it tastes, use whatever oil you want. Extra virgin oil has a lot of flavor. It will definitely make a dish taste different from a dish cooked without it. That can be good or bad, depending on your tastes, and on the dish in question.

                  1. re: Kagey

                    Thanks for the feedback. I have read about that the adulterated oils. I've also found that if extra virgin olive oil gets really hot, all the flavor goes up in smoke. I don't really want to pay for amazing extra virgin olive oil with lots of flavor for everyday cooking, especially if that flavor then gets zapped. That's why I've found recent claims by chefs that it doesn't make sense to use extra virgin olive oil for high heat cooking rather interesting. I imagine it would be different if I could get big bottles of the good stuff down the street.

                    1. re: suse

                      I use an extra virgin olive oil from Trader Joe's for most of my cooking. It is mild in flavor and I love it. I make a lot of pastas, saute, and grill. The evoo adds a nice layer to my dishes. When I'm frying or making something for DH who could care less I use vegetable oil. I love other oils but have to slowly add them to my budget.

                2. I live in the UK now and most TV chefs here (and in particular, one Italian guy) say to never use EVOO for anything except salad dressings and the like. I think it's up to the cook. But I hope no one uses it for making Chinese stir-frys or Indian curries!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: zuriga1

                    I've seen that here in the U.S. as well, but I use it anyway - a cheaper kind for cooking and a more expensive one for drizzling and on salads. I'll have to see what Marcella Hazan has to say on the subject!

                  2. There are several grades of olive oil, from extra virgin limited cold pressings (expensive) to just plan "olive oil" and "light olive oil." Since there is no way on God's green earth you can take the fat out of pure fat and still have fat left, "light" olive oil simply means it has a lot less flavor and a lighter color than the "finishing" ilive oils due to the filtering process. It also has a much higher flash point as a result of bing filtered, so it's a lot more suitable for frying. Runs four or five bucks, which is much cheaper than premium olive oils. I currently use Colavita 2007 Harvest Limited Pressing extra virgin olive oil for dipping, most salad dressings and as a finishing oil. Sells for around $20.00 for 750ml. Super premium evoo can run fifty bucks or more for a 500ml bottle. Cook with it? Not if I paid for it!

                    1. I used to use EVOO, but switched to grapeseed oil. I pay about $17/gallon at a local bulk food store, so it's cheaper than many EVOOs, and it has a much higher smoke point. Unlike my favorite EVOO, it is tasteless, and relatively good for you.