Properly season a wok – Method 2

If you’ve never used a wok before, you’re definitely in luck. Woks can be a lot of fun and create exciting conversation starters. Woks, like your grandmother’s cast iron Dutch oven, will last for years, take a lot of abuse, and cook everything in the sun. Woks come in two basic types: nonstick and conventional. I prefer the conventional: most recipes ask you to ‘push the contents towards the walls of the wok’, something that is impossible to do with a nonstick – the contents continue to slide to the bottom. Conventional woks are grooved that tend to hold the contents together, or “hand hammered”, where almost imperceptible “dents” from the hammering process secure the contents to the sides. Both woks are good. I personally prefer “hand hammered”. Get a wok with a “Steam Dome”. You will need it!

Whichever wok you choose, if it’s non-stick, you don’t need seasonings. Conventional woks do. The seasoning not only prepares the surface of the metal by sealing the pores of the metal, it also makes the wok non-stick. Like a well seasoned cast iron skillet, food will not stick to a well seasoned wok.

When shopping for a wok, it will likely come with a set of instructions that will tell you how to care for your new purchase. It will also give you a procedure for seasoning your wok. Be sure to follow the instructions. But here’s my alternative “Salt and Oil Seasoning Method” that takes less time than the “standard” method to create a well seasoned wok.

Warning: Don’t try this to ‘season’ a nonstick wok – you’ll just screw it up.

Seasoning method with oil and salt

  1. Clean the inside of a new carbon steel wok with warm soapy water and a scouring pad to remove all traces of the oil used in making the wok. Rinse and dry well.

  2. Place the clean wok on a stove burner and heat until just warm to remove residual water.

  3. Using a suitable vegetable cooking oil, such as peanut, avocado, olive, or grapeseed oil, coat the inside of the wok. Spread a layer of common table salt on the oiled surface, making sure all the oil is covered in salt. I use a spoon to put salt on the oily surface.

  4. Place the wok on a stove burner and turn the burner on to high. Leave on the fire for 15 minutes. There will be a considerable amount of smoke as the volatiles in the oil are burned off.

  5. When the wok stops smoking, remove the wok from the heat and let it cool completely. The inside of the wok will be black.

  6. Rinse the salt off with hot water and a soft sponge.

  7. Pat dry and place on burner. Heat until warm.

  8. Rub a thin layer of oil on the inside of the wok. Wipe up the excess with a paper towel.

  9. Clever!
  10. Now every time you use the wok, run a thin layer of cooking oil over the inside surface before heating the wok. Then add the oil that the recipe calls for when the wok is hot.

  11. The more the wok is used, the more the interior will continue to blacken. That’s the “non-stick” coating you want.

  12. Never scrub the inside of a wok with soap and cheesecloth.

  13. Use only hot water and a bamboo whisk to clean the wok.

  14. Always dry your wok and add a layer of oil after rinsing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *