You have already done the hard work of finding the perfect carbon steel wok that would give you the best service that you were hoping for all along. Now, here comes the tricky part of seasoning your pan so that it remains in top condition for regular use.
What you may not know is that carbon steel is a porous material, and if you do not season it before cooking, it could be affected by the rust in the long-term. We do not want you to go through this predicament, and that is why we have prepared this detailed article on how you can clean, season, and generally care for your wok.
As you shall see, seasoning and maintaining your wok is not as complicated as you thought.
First Time Cleaning
Before you use your newly-acquired wok for anything else, you have to clean it first. This is because the manufacturers often apply factory oil to protect them from humidity during shipping which could cause rusting.
This is how your wok arrived in perfect condition.
To prepare your wok for seasoning, you have to clean it properly to rid it of the factory oil and dirt collected during shipping. Note that this is the only time you should use soap and a sponge to clean your pan.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Carbon Steel Wok
- Start by filling the sink with hot and soapy water before scrubbing both the inside and outside of the wok with a scouring pad.
- Next, rinse the wok appropriately and then dry with a clean and dry towel.
- Finally, place the wok on the stovetop and heat under medium-high heat to evaporate any leftover drop for complete drying.
Now that you have rid the unit of all the factory oil let’s now choose the perfect seasoning oil for the process.
Choosing the Right Seasoning Oil
The best oil for seasoning your wok is one with a high smoking point. This means that you can use them at extremely high temperatures without burning. In addition to that, this oil ought to be refined and impart a neutral flavor.
Examples of oils that you can use for the seasoning include peanut oil, canola oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, and pork fat.
Seasoning Your Carbon Steel Wok
There are three popular seasoning methods that we are going to explore. Once again, we emphasize that you clean your wok before the process to expose the bare metal.
I) Stovetop Seasoning Method
You need to have a top-range burner, paper towels, and the seasoning oil of your choice to use this method. Here are the steps that you should follow:
- If your unit has wooden handles, you could either remove them or wrap them in aluminum foil so that they do not burn.
- Then, preheat over high heat to open up the pores, and once the wok gets hot, it will release some smoke.
- Flip the wok so that you can heat all sections, including the front, back, and sides. You will notice your unit changing colors when you expose it to the heat.
- Perform a water test to determine if the wok is hot enough. If you determine that it is, your unit is ready for seasoning.
- Allow it to cool down to be safe to touch before using a paper towel to coat the unit with a high smoke point oil. Ensure the layer is thin and even so that you achieve a smooth, non-stick surface. Ensure you coat the wok’s outside for rust-protection.
- Place the wok on the burner once again under medium-high heat, and when it stops smoking, take this as a sign that that particular portion has been seasoned. Flip and tilt the wok so that you season all the sections.
- After that, use hot water to rinse the wok and clean with a bamboo brush to clean without removing the seasoning.
- Once again, place it on the stovetop under high heat to evaporate any water particles left behind.
- Repeat the seasoning process for a thicker protective coating and slicker non-stick surface.
II) Oven Seasoning Method
Before you use this method, ensure that your wok has oven-safe handles. The steps are as follows:
- Ensure that the factory oil has been completely removed before preheating the oven to 450-degree Fahrenheit.
- After that, line a sheet pan with aluminum foil before using a paper towel to coat the whole wok, including the outside, with lard or oil.
- Proceed to place a lined sheet pan on the oven’s bottom rack and then place the oiled wok at the top rack.
- Bake for about 20-minutes and then take the pan out of the oven. Proceed to rinse the unit with warm water and a soft sponge and then place it on the stovetop under high heat to dry it completely.
III) Salt Seasoning Method
This is a method that involves the use of kosher salt to form a dark patina on your unit. Further, it can help in re-seasoning a pan that has been out of use for quite a while.
The following are the steps you should follow in this method:
- Start by completing the initial process of removing the factory and then pour a cup of kosher salt into the pan.
- Take this salt-filled wok and place it on a gas stovetop with high heat. Stir the salt uninterrupted for about 20-minutes, and you should push it up and around the wok’s sides.
- Once this stirring period is over, remove the wok from the stovetop and discard the heated salt into the sink (of course, after cooling off).
- Lastly, wipe the wok clean with either a paper towel or an oil-covered rag to spread a thin layer of oil over the wok’s surface.
As you can see, seasoning and taking care of your wok is a very straightforward process, and there is no excuse why you should not be doing it on your pan. The methods we have outlined above are the easiest and most used globally, so you can try them out.
And if your wok ever rusts, simply use a scouring pad to scrub off the rust and then re-season the unit as if it is fresh from the shop.