Woks are used in a range of different Chinese cooking techniques such as stir-frying, steaming, searing or stewing. It’s the perfect pan for cooking up culinary masterpieces. Wok cooking is done with a long handle utensil called a chahn (spatula) or a hoak (ladle). The long handles of these utensils allow cooks to work with the food without burning their hands.
Whilst there are many types of woks available to purchase, a carbon steel wok is known for its longevity. If you look after it properly, it will last forever. One of the first jobs in taking care of your new carbon steel wok is to season it.
You’ll find that unseasoned woks are coated with a factory oil, the purpose being to protect the metal and prevent it from rusting prior to being sold. Seasoning a carbon steel wok enables foods to glide smoothly over the cooking surface of the wok. Read on to learn how to season your wok.
Seasoning Your Carbon Steel Wok
WASH: Using hot soapy water and a stainless steel sponge, scour heavily to remove the factory oil.
DRY: Place on the burner at a low heat for 1-2 minutes until any water has evaporated.
HEAT & OIL: Ensure your room is well-ventilated then heat the wok on the stove. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl around the bottom and sides, until the metal changes colour. Remove from the heat and cool.
COAT: Using a paper towel, rub a thin coat of oil then return to heat for about 15 minutes. (Optional: add scallions and ginger to flavour the pan at this stage). The colour of the wok will change from shiny silver to mottled yellow-brown, blue or black.
COOL: Remove the wok from the heat and let it cool (remove the scallions and ginger if used). Wash the wok with plain hot water without any soap or detergent.
DRY: Place on the burner at a low heat for 1-2 minutes until completely dry. The wok is now ready to use.
Caring For Your Wok After Seasoning
Your new wok will soak up any fat you give it which will help develop the seasoning. Cook anything that uses fat: stir-fries, deep-fat frying, cooking bacon, but avoid steaming, boiling, or poaching in your new wok.
Your wok will go through an adolescent stage before it develops a deep patina and non-stick coating which can make it look splotchy, feel gummy, or develop rust spots. Do not fret, the solution is to simply keep cooking and the patina will develop with time and use. Once the patina on your wok has matured you can use it for a range of different Chinese cooking styles.