A wok is a cooking vessel, most commonly used for cooking authentic Chinese food. Modern times have seen it become an essential instrument in the kitchen since its use is not just limited to stir frying now. It is a multipurpose utensil used for deep frying, steaming, boiling, stewing, braising, etc. It is also considered as the best cooking equipment for people who are health conscious or have been asked to reduce the intake of oily foods as it requires very little oil to cook food. Its biggest advantage is that it is extremely easy to clean a wok.
However, before you start using the wok, it is very important to season it, to ensure that the food glides in it, without sticking to the utensil.
The most popular types are carbon steel wok, cast iron wok, and stainless steel wok. You can do away by not seasoning the stainless steel wok, but it is extremely necessary to season the other two types. However, one needs to add a little more oil while preparing food in a stainless steel wok. Here, we look at ways of seasoning cast iron and carbon steel woks.
Seasoning with Oil
- The first step is to scrub the inside of the pan. This is done to remove the coating that manufacturers apply to protect the wok from getting rusted in the store. Wash it in a mixture of hot water and liquid detergent. Scrub it with a stainless steel scrubber till all the protective coating is removed. Rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry for a few minutes.
- When completely dry, place it on the stove on a very high heat for a few minutes. You will observe that the color of the wok transforms from steel gray to blue, purple, and red till it turns black. This is a usual step in the seasoning process, so the black color shouldn't terrify you.
- Next, take several paper towels and dip them in oil. The best oil for this purpose is corn oil or peanut oil, but you could also use vegetable oil. Scrub the wok gently with these oil-dipped paper towels. You can use tongs to hold the paper towels, to prevent your hands from accidentally touching the hot wok. Remember to never pour the oil directly into the wok.
- Once this is done, lower the flame and let the wok heat for another 10-15 minutes. All this while, the wok absorbs the oil and starts becoming darker in color. Keep applying oil till the wok becomes very dark.
- Take the wok off the stove and let it cool down at room temperature. When it has cooled off completely, you can start using it for cooking.
Seasoning Your Wok with Salt
- The first step is the same, i.e., you have to wash and scrub the wok to remove the protective layer.
- To dry the washed wok, you can keep it on the stove and heat it till all the water is evaporated. When this is done, put a cup of kosher salt into the wok and start stirring it. Stir continuously for at least twenty minutes. Make sure that the salt reaches the edges of the wok while stirring.
- You will notice that the bottom of the wok starts blackening after a few minutes. After 18-20 minutes, you will find that the entire wok has turned black. Discard the salt from the wok and allow it to cool completely. Spread a thin film of oil on the wok before you start cooking in it.
Once seasoned, the wok can be used for cooking. However, if you find that the food still sticks to the bottom of the wok, you will have to repeat the entire seasoning process again. But once you have seasoned it, you do not have to spend much time washing it. To clean the wok after you have cooked in it, all you have to do is pour some hot water on it and swish it with a nonabrasive brush. Applying a small amount of oil on the entire wok will prevent it from rusting.