Saturday, May 24, 2008

Talk the Talk, Wok the Wok (Part 3)

Seasoning your wok is very important before you first cook with it. “What does it mean to season your wok? And why is it so important?” you may ask. Well, that’s exactly what I will be discussing in today’s post. I will explain how to season your new carbon steel wok, as well as how to clean and care for your wok afterwards.

Ok, first things first. What does it mean to season a wok? Well, let me first tell you that it does not mean that your adding a little s & p (salt and pepper) action to your wok. You’re not seasoning your wok like a steak (don’t worry, I use to think that that’s what it meant!), and you’re certainly not going to eat your wok. Seasoning a wok simply is sealing the surface of the wok with a thin layer of oil. By doing this, you not only prevent the wok from rusting (thus ensuring longevity), you also make the wok super non-stick for years to come.

How to Season Your Carbon Steel Wok

1. Scrub, rinse, and dry
New carbon steel woks often have a protective coating put on by the manufacturer. (This coating makes food taste like metal). You must remove this before actually seasoning your wok. So, scrub hard, rinse, and dry well.

2. Place wok over low heat, wipe with vegetable oil, and heat for 10 min.
You can soak a couple sheets of paper towel or cloth in the oil. When you’re ready, use tongs or long chopsticks to wipe the wok down. If the oil ever evaporates completely – don’t worry - simply wipe down more oil.

3. Remove wok from heat, let cool, and wipe excess oil with paper towel
Pretty much self explanatory.

4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3, two or three more times
This ensures the wok is properly seasoned. You should notice that the bottom of the wok is turning dark in color. This is natural and indicates that the wok is in fact seasoned well. Over time, the wok may turn completely black. Bravo! This gives food even more Asian tasting goodness!

How to Clean Your Seasoned Wok

After seasoning and using your work, cleaning it really is a snap. Simply wash it in plain water without soap. DO NOT SCRUB IT - EVER! (do you really want to waste time seasoning it again?) Let it dry by placing it over low heat. That was easy, wasn't it?

Ok, last notes. You only need to season a wok once (ever) if you do it really well. However, chances are some of you may cut some corners, and find that your wok becomes a "stick" pan and/or the metal begins to rust. No need to panic. Simply re-season it using the steps I gave above.

Hopefully, I have cleared things up about how to season and clean your wok. Stay tuned for part 4 - the final post in this series :( - which will be about wok accessories!