Care for Your Carbon Steel Wok
‘How to use and maintain a carbon steel wok?’ is the most important question right after you choose and purchase a carbon steel wok for you. If you are in such a situation, we’ve got your back!
In case, you are not a novice user but you need to know the proper ways of using and maintaining it, well, even then this article is going to help you. We’ve shared a lot of useful tips this topic so that you don’t miss a thing.
So, let’s get to the point.
Getting Your Carbon Steel Wok Ready to Use
After purchasing a wok, the first thing you should do is to clean it and get it ready for use. During shipping the woks, manufacturers coat the woks with factory oil for protecting them from humidity. This is to prevent rust and make sure that the works come in perfect condition.
Here, we have laid out some steps you should follow before using your wok for the first time.
Step 1: Go Through Initial Washing
This part is for removing the factory oil coating and any dirt that may be collected by your pan during shipping. Use clean water and your hands to thoroughly wash the wok.
Next, pour water into the wok and add a fair amount of dish soap to the water. Boil it for around 20 minutes. Then, use an abrasive sponge and scrub the coating. Gently scrub it until you get to the bare steel. Once done, rinse the wok using hot water.
Step 2: Temper the Wok
In this step, you need a hot gas flame. In order to temper the wok, put your empty pan onto your . Set the heat at a high temperature and rotate the wok to let the entire surface oxidize. Once it gets black-blue patina, you can get it back and cool it down.
Step 3: Season Your Wok
Now, it’s time to do one of the most important tasks for using a carbon steel wok. A new or unseasoned wok should be seasoned properly to prevent rust as well as create a patina.
You can get a better cooking experience by seasoning your wok because seasoning will let your wok get rid of sticking food on its surface. You will need to follow the right ways to season a wok properly. So, here you go.
Choose an oil for seasoning your carbon steel wok first. Oils that come with a high smoke point work the best for seasoning. Because these oils are ideal to use at a high temperature and there’s no risk of burning. Also, the oils should be refined.
Here are some options, you can choose one of them.
- Peanut oil
- Sunflower oil
- Canola oil
- Lard or pork fat
- Grape seed oil
Now, let’s walk through the steps of seasoning carbon steel wok. In case, you prefer to season your wok on a stovetop:
- Wrap the woody handles (if your wok comes with wood handles) in an aluminum foil or simply remove them. This step is to prevent burning or scorching.
- Open the metal’s pores by preheating your wok and placing it over high heat. At this time, your wok will release smoke. For this, you need to open the windows, switch on the kitchen hood fan, and clean the space around your burner.
- Make sure you heat the back, front, and sides of your wok by flipping it. You’ll notice a color change of your wok while it’s exposed to heat.
- To know if the wok is ready for seasoning or not you should perform a water test. Throw a little drop of water on your wok and check if the water evaporates within a second.
- Leave your wok to cool down.
- Coat the wok with a high smoke point oil using a paper towel. Make a thin layer of oil to have a nonstick, smooth surface. Do not forget to apply the oil outside of your wok as well because seasoning acts like a rust protectant.
- Place the wok back to your burner and set it at medium-high heat. When you notice the oil has stopped smoking, that part of your wok is seasoned. Make sure to season every section of your wok by flipping it.
- Once you find the entire surface of your wok gets a dark hue with a matte finish, you’re done with the seasoning process.
- Wash your seasoned wok thoroughly with hot water and clean it using a bamboo wok brush without removing the seasoning.
- Finally, you’ll want to evaporate the remaining water particles on your wok. To do so, return your wok onto the stovetop and set it to high heat.
The following steps are to season your wok in the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 450℉.
- Use an aluminum foil for lining a sheet pan.
- Coat the wok (including the outside) thoroughly with oil or lard using a paper towel.
- Get the lined sheet pan and place it on your oven’s bottom rack.
- Use the top rack for placing the oiled wok on it.
- Now, bake your wok for around 20
- Get back your pan from the oven.
- To rinse your pan well, use a soft sponge and warm water.
- Keep the wok on your stovetop at a high heat and dry the pan.
There’s another method called the ‘salt seasoning method’ that uses kosher salt for creating a dark patina on a carbon steel wok. You can use this method for refreshing or re-seasoning your pan as well.
- Firstly, take one cup of kosher salt in the wok.
- Place this salt-filled wok on to your gas stovetop. Set high heat to the stovetop.
- Stir the salt, do it constantly for around 20 minutes. Push the salts carefully up and around your wok’s sides.
- Get your pan back from the heat.
- Keep the heated salt in your sink and let it dampen, cool before discarding it.
- Cover a paper towel with oil and then, wipe your wok with the paper towel. Make sure you create a thin layer of oil on your pan’s surface.
Carbon steel wok will last longer if you clean and dry it promptly after each time you use it. Here’s how to clean a carbon steel wok properly.
- Use hot water to rinse your wok thoroughly.
- Gently scrape away any food particles using a non-metallic scrubber. If you find the food is literally stuck on the surface, soak your pan in hot water and wait 5 minutes. Then, remove the food gently.
- Keep rinsing your pan until it’s totally getting rid of food particles.
- Use paper towels to dry both the inside and the outside of your wok.
- Set up your stovetop at medium-high heat and place your wok on to it to finish the drying process.
- Apply a little amount of vegetable oil inside your pan. It will prevent the wok from rust. However, it’s not that important if your carbon steel wok is perfectly seasoned as well as gets a lot of use.
- Put the wok away until the next use.
How Can You Preserve the Wok’s Seasoning?
If you keep these tips in your mind, your wok’s patina will become improved as well as the performance of your pan will be improved.
- If it’s your new wok, do not poach, boil, or steam products in it.
- When it’s a newly-seasoned wok, try not to cook acidic foods (tomatoes, lemon, and vinegar) in it.
- Avoid using any dishwashing chemicals and abrasive pads to clean the wok.
- To keep building a patina, often cook, fry, and saute in the wok.
- Use a wok spatula, wok ladle, and bamboo wok brush to cook in your wok.
Things to Avoid While Cleaning Your Wok
Woks that are made of carbon steel or cast iron require prompt cleaning and maintenance. There are a few things you should avoid while cleaning your carbon steel wok.
- Try not to use a harsh brush or an abrasive cleanser that may damage the seasoned surface of your pan.
- Avoid putting your wok into the dishwasher.
- In case, you notice rust spots on your wok, take it easy. Gently eliminate the rusts and re-season your wok.
Additional Tips to Use Your Carbon Steel Wok
Let’s get to know some extra tips to use your carbon steel wok regularly.
- Make it Stable: If you’re using a wok that comes with a rounded bottom, you need to securely sit it on the stove using a wok ring. Because the rounded bottom does not tend to sit securely on the stovetop while tossing the food around.
- Maintain the wok properly: It’s essential to clean the wok thoroughly and get it ready for the first use. After that, season your pan following the instructions. Also, you need to clean it daily by hand. Do not forget to keep your pan away from moisture as well as re-applying oil coating after you use it every time. It will keep your pan from rusts.
- Avoid using metal utensils: This is important because using metal utensils can lead to having scratches on your seasoned carbon steel wok. However, if you accidentally use metal utensils, you can re-season the pan.
- Use hand gloves: In case, your wok doesn’t come with insulated handles, it’s important to protect your hands from high heat using hand gloves.
Tips to Maintain a Carbon Steel Wok
Regular maintenance can ensure you have a long-lasting carbon steel wok. Need some tips? Here you go.
- After cooking a strong food such as a curry dish or a fish, it’s a good idea to wash and heat your carbon steel wok twice. Heat will help your wok to get rid of the remaining food flavors. You will never want to cook in a lightly-seasoned pan that still smells the fish you cooked the previous day.
- If your pan isn’t being used for a long time, wash it thoroughly before you use it. In case you notice any rust on it, we assume that you didn’t get rid of all moisture or you didn’t apply a fair amount of oil to wipe the wok down before you stored the wok. You must follow these two instructions properly.
- Once you cook acidic foods like vinegar in your wok, it’s crucial to wash the wok promptly. Because if there’s any acidic ingredients in your wok, there are chances of wearing away the patina.
- If your wok looks worse because of wear, re-season it in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
There you have it! Now, you know the detailed answer to this question- ‘how to use and maintain a carbon steel wok?’.
As we explained, it’s not hard to keep your carbon steel wok in good condition. All you need to do is, keep it neat and clean. Wash it right after you use it (I mean, when it’s cool enough to touch), and store it at a dry place.
Hopefully, by following our instructions, you can take full advantage of your carbon steel wok and let it last long.