If you have just recently purchased a new wok or received it as a gift, congratulations, and welcome to the beginning of a new cooking adventure! In order to pave the road to endless culinary possibilities, as a new wok owner, you must take a few minutes and learn how to season your wok. There are various methods to accomplish this and there are different approaches that shift depending on what part of the world you live in.
How Asians Season Their Woks
Asians, prefer to use pork fat and chives. The reason behind this is the fact that the chives tend to absorb the metal flavors while their fibers produce a scrubbing action. The pork fat, on the other hand, allows a fatty deposit to form which turns the wok into something similar to a non stick pan. Traditionally, woks were once sold with a piece of pork fat ready to be used in the seasoning process.
How Westerners Season their Woks
In the western world woks are first scrubbed with a pad along with soap and water to remove the factory’s protective coating, after ward, they are allowed to dry and then they are finally seasoned with vegetable oil. Peanut oil works particularly well. The wok is basically heated over low heat, then some vegetable oil is spread with a paper towel all over the surface and it is wiped down until the the paper towels come clean with no trace of color.
The process can be repeated twice for better results after allowing the wok to cool in between. Use lots of caution when seasoning your wok. Keep a fan on for proper ventilation and in order to minimize your risks of getting burned, try passing the oil dipped paper towel around the wok with a set of tongs.
The easiest types of woks to season are the ones made out of carbon steel. This material features pores that absorb the oil when heated causing them to season particularly well. They also come with a protective coating from the factory so they must be cleaned well prior to being seasoned.
The more you cook with the wok the more seasoned it becomes. The use of oil and vegetables for stir frying will create a varnish over time that will assume a nice mahogany color after approximately six months of constant use. At some point, you will notice that you will need less and less oil as the wok may appear to become similar to a non-stick pan. The best thing is that this is accomplished in a natural way with no need of using harmful Teflon!
A very important factor that should be kept in mind is that woks should never be washed with soap. If you do so, you need to repeat the whole seasoning process all over. Carbon steel or iron cast woks must be washed in warm water and scrubbed with a soft bristle brush.
Perhaps the best part of seasoning a wok is the fact that the seasoning process gives a unique characteristic flavor to food as time goes by. Some people believe that the best tasting stir fries are those where you can taste the smoky flavors distributed by a well seasoned wok.
Woks still remain the quintessential tool for tasty Asian cooking. They help provide healthy cooking alternatives since vegetables are quickly stir fried retaining their nutrients and minimum fat is needed in well seasoned woks. Now that you wok is well seasoned, you are on your way to start enjoying many tasty and healthy Asian meals.