How to create a protective layer on your trusty carbon-steel wok.
You may have heard me mention the phrase ‘seasoned wok’ in a few of my videos, so I thought it would be helpful to explain in a bit more detail what I mean by that. Because nope, seasoned wok doesn’t mean adding salt and pepper to your stir-fry!
Some woks come with a factory-produced, non-stick finish. But, if you buy a new, carbon-steel wok, it needs to be ‘seasoned’ (much like you would a cast-iron pan) in order to build up that protective layer inside. This layer is also known as a patina. Why? Because that layer will act as a non-stick surface, protect your wok from rust and, over time, add more flavour to your dishes. Cool, right?!
Got your wok? Then let’s get seasoning!
To get started, you’ll need to first give your new wok a good scrub with a metal scourer, then use a little detergent to make sure it’s nice and clean. After a good rinse, set your stovetop (it doesn’t matter what kind you have) to its highest heat and place your wok on top. Keep tilting and turning to ensure every part is heated and coloured evenly.
Now it’s time for the oil. Once your wok has been burnt, allow it to cool, then coat the inner surface with a thin layer (using a paper towel helps) of high-heating oil, such as vegetable or sunflower. (Find out which oils to use in your cooking in my handy article.)
For the final step, place the oiled wok on the high heat again so the oil can reach its smoking point. Once it stops smoking, that area of the wok is ‘seasoned’. Keep turning and tilting until all the oil has burnt off from every part of the wok – you’ll notice the pan should now have a dark, matte appearance. The more you cook with your wok, the darker it will get.
If your wok is looking mottled, it can be easy to think you’ve ruined it, but providing you follow the steps above, you most likely haven’t! Keep on cooking with it, and after around three or four months, it will have taken on a golden, coppery colour. My wok is lovely and dark all over, but that’s because I’ve had it for years and I use it A LOT! Most woks will take around one or two years to get an even black patina. Keep persevering!
My seasoned wok – it’s had a lot of use!
Each time you’re done cooking with the wok, steer clear of soap. Instead, wash it with hot water and use a brush to get rid of any food residue (for any stubborn bits, try boiling some water in your wok and using the spatula on it). Dry it thoroughly by heating it on the stove, which will also help maintain that seasoned layer.