Ever wondered how to season a wok? Here is your step-by-step guide on how to season a carbon steel wok. It is simpler than you think!
Thank you Made In Cookware for sponsoring this post!
A wok is essential to Asian cooking. Its unique shape makes it perfect for the tossing motion required in cooking stir fries. Buying the right wok can seem intimidating because woks come in different shapes and a variety of materials. Choosing the right wok for you boils down to personal preference.
Although I grew up using cast iron and stainless steel woks, I now prefer using ones made with carbon steel. Carbon steel woks heat up fast and retain their heat well. Additionally, they are lighter than cast iron. When used regularly over time, carbon steel woks develop a patina, or nonstick surface, which I’ll explain further below.
If you are looking to buy your first wok, the Made In Blue Carbon Steel Wok is a great option. It is a high-quality wok that is made with French carbon steel. The wok is 2 millimeters thick, slightly thicker than other carbon steel woks. To me, the thickness makes the wok feel sturdier. The Made In wok heats up fast and can withstand temperatures of up to 1200ºF!
In terms of the shape, the Made In wok is flat bottomed, so it can be used on most home stovetops (gas, electric, or induction). The wok is 12.5 inches wide (measured from the top). It is a great size because the wok can cook a substantial amount of food, but it won’t take up much space in the kitchen.
You can purchase the Made In Blue Carbon Steel Wok directly from their website. Made In offers free shipping and free returns, so it is very convenient for you to purchase and try their woks at home.
HOW TO SEASON A WOK
Many cooks prefer using carbon steel because of its nonstick surface. However, it is important to note that carbon steel woks, including ones made by Made In, are not naturally nonstick. You need to season the wok first. Then, with proper use and care over time, a natural patina will develop over the surface, making the wok nonstick.
What You’ll Need for Seasoning a Wok
- dish soap
- metal scrubber or scouring pad
- paper towels
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil or any other high-heat oil
- 1 bunch of scallions, sliced into 2 to 3-inch sections
- 1/3 cup sliced ginger
- 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
Scrub Off the Factory Oil
Carbon steel woks are usually coated with a layer of factory oil to keep them from rusting before they are sold. It is crucial that you scrub off this layer of factory oil before you use the wok for cooking. You don’t want the factory oil in your food!
For the initial scrubbing, you’ll need dish soap and a metal scrubber or scouring pad. You only use soap and abrasive scrubbers when you are prepping the wok for seasoning. Do not use them for regular cleaning and maintenance. Otherwise, you will scrub off the patina and ruin the nonstick surface of the wok.
Be prepared to spend a bit of time on the scrubbing. Add some dish soap to your wok and use a scrubber to scrub the inside and outside of the wok thoroughly. Rinse the wok with water. Add dish soap to the wok again and repeat the scrubbing and rinsing two more times. As you rinse the wok, if you notice that your fingers are picking up black stains from touching the wok, it means you haven’t quite gotten rid of the factory oil yet.
Pay attention to the crease at the top of the Made In wok as well as the area where the bolts are holding the handle in place. Those areas are a little more difficult to clean.
After several rounds of scrubbing and rinsing, rub the inside and outside of the wok with paper towels. The paper towels are very good at picking up any leftover factory oil residue from the wok. If the paper towel looks black after rubbing the wok, scrub the wok with soap, rinse, and wipe with paper towels again. Eventually, you’ll get a clean wipe with the paper towel, and that’s when you know you’ve scrubbed off the factory oil adequately.
This entire process can take 10 to 15 minutes, so don’t be discouraged if it seems like it is taking forever to get rid of the factory oil.
Dry the Wok
Take the cleaned wok and place it on your stove over high heat. There is no need to dry the wok with a towel because the water evaporates very quickly. Once the wok is dry, wet your fingers lightly. Then, flick some water from your fingers onto the wok. If the droplets sizzle and evaporate in a few seconds, the wok is hot enough for the next step.
Season the Wok
In this step, the goal is to use heat to open up the pores of the wok so that they can absorb oil to prevent rusting and start developing a nonstick surface. You will be heating oil for quite some time, so turn on your exhaust fan to the highest setting. Open your windows if your kitchen needs more ventilation.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of peanut or other high heat oil into the wok. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the sliced scallions, ginger, and garlic to the wok. Begin to stir fry the vegetables. Use the back of a wok spatula to press the vegetables against the walls of the wok to help spread the oil around more evenly.
Keep stirring the vegetables and using a spatula to press the oil against the walls of the wok for 15 minutes. The wok needs that time to begin developing the patina. Your vegetables will likely look burned by the end of the process but that’s perfectly okay.
One drastic difference that I’ve noticed between Made In’s wok and other carbon steel woks I’ve seasoned in the past is the way color of the wok changes during the seasoning process. Most woks undergo a drastic change in color when heated for a long time, usually from grey to blue. It’s normal for that to happen. However, I didn’t notice that kind of color change when I seasoned the Made In wok.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat. Let the wok cool for a few minutes. Then, dish up the vegetables and discard them.
Clean the Wok
There will be grease and other tiny morsels of food that settle to the bottom of the wok. Use a bristled brush or soft sponge to gently clean the wok. Do not use dish soap here. Rinse the wok and place it on the stove to dry.
Dry Wok and Seal with Layer of Oil
Heat the wok ver high heat again. Once all the water evaporates, turn off the heat. Carefully rub a thin layer of oil onto the wok. I usually pour about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil into the wok and rub the oil throughout the wok with several layers of paper towels. Be careful because the wok is still very hot at this point. You can use a spatula to help move the paper towel around too.
I don’t use kitchen towels for this task because they can be moist, and I don’t want to reintroduce moisture back into the wok. Otherwise, the wok can rust while it’s stored. Your wok is now ready for cooking!
General Care for Your Wok
After each time you use the wok, gently clean it with a brush or soft sponge. If your brush gets very dirty and greasy as mine does, put some dish soap in a small bowl and fill it with 1 cup of water. Take your brush and rub it against the bottom of the bowl back and forth, vigorously, for 5 to 10 seconds. This should clean the brush. Repeat if necessary.
If there are stubborn bits of food stuck to the bottom of your wok, fill your wok with about 4 to 5 cups of water. Bring the water to boil and then drain it. The hot water should help loosen the food and will be much easier to release with a brush or sponge. After you clean the wok, dry it over high heat and rub a bit of oil on the inside.
If your wok ever rusts, scrub the rust off with a scouring pad. Rinse and reseason the wok as if it were brand new.
STIR-FRY RECIPES FOR YOUR NEWLY SEASONED WOK
- Easiest Egg Fried Rice
- Chicken Chow Mein
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Chili and Garlic Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Asparagus