Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Woks - Buying, Care, and Use


eatingwitheddie
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have a very cheap work, one that is very thin (it's actually a bit bendable). I have seasoned it many times but still have terrible problems with food sticking and burning. Would a non-stick skillet solve my problems without compromising flavour? Will a non-stick surface appreciably diminish the "wok-seared taste"? or inhibit the Maillard reaction?

I use my wok for dishes like pad thai. I cook on an electric range.

Go for it. The wok taste is elusive -- flavoring the dish well is about 99.5% of the game.

By the way my hand-hammered wok is quite thin and bends easlity. It works great and was easy to season. It gets very hot quickly and cools off just as fast. Are you sure you've seasoned your wok properly? Need help?

Edited by eatingwitheddie (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I gave my wok one last try last night on a fried rice dish and it worked quite well. This was probably my 12th time using the wok and the last several times I have noticed the blackened/seasoned area growing a bit (it now extends an inch or two up the sides). I live in a small apartment and my kitchen has no range hood, window or exhaust system of any type so my seasoning attempts have probably been more timid than they should have been. (my method: get the wok good and hot, put in a few tablespoons of oil and few teaspoons of salt and rub like crazy -- I should probably repeat this more than once or twice but by that point my wife and I are choking on the smoke :wacko: I have done this 5 or 6 times altogether now.)

I guess I will be patient and give it a few more tries.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Jawbone wrote:"

I gave my wok one last try last night on a fried rice dish and it worked quite well. This was probably my 12th time using the wok and the last several times I have noticed the blackened/seasoned area growing a bit (it now extends an inch or two up the sides).  I live in a small apartment and my kitchen has no range hood, window or exhaust system of any type so my seasoning attempts have probably been more timid than they should have been. (my method: get the wok good and hot, put in a few tablespoons of oil and few teaspoons of salt and rub like crazy -- I should probably repeat this more than once or twice but by that point my wife and I are choking on the smoke  :wacko: I have done this 5 or 6 times altogether now.)

I guess I will be patient and give it a few more tries.

You don't need the salt.

HOW TO SEASON & CLEAN YOUR STEEL WOK

To season a steel wok:

Put a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in your wok and place it over high heat. Tilt the pan to make sure the surface is oiled all over. When the wok starts to get quite hot, after 30-90 seconds, wash it out with cold water using a coarse stainless steel or copper pad to scrub the wok's surface clean. Dry the wok over high heat and wipe clean with a towel. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times for a new steel pan.

To clean a steel wok: While your pan is still warm rinse it quickly with some cool water, then with more cool water flowing into the pan, scrub the wok's surface with a coarse stainless steel or copper pad until it's free of all food particles. Rinse it once more, then dry it by placing the wok over high heat and drying it with a towel.

Edited by eatingwitheddie (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Ed!

I am going to try your method. I think my method was something I had read that was intended as instructions for seasoning cast iron. It never occured to me that the different materials required different seasoning techniques (I wonder why -- will mentioning the word "metallurgy" prompt some responses? ) :smile:

Jonathan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Ed!

I am going to try your method. I think my method was something I had read that was intended as instructions for seasoning cast iron. It never occured to me that the different materials required different seasoning techniques (I wonder why -- will mentioning the word "metallurgy" prompt some responses? ) :smile:

Jonathan

The fact is I do exactly the same thing to a cast iron skillet. I have and use 20 of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is the "high heat". You wok must really get very very hot for it to get properly seasoned. If you do not have hight BTU take it to a friend's stove try leaving it for 15-20 minutes on maximum heat setting'

No point in trying to season a stainless steel wok. It cannot be done. If it is very hot and well greased your food should not stick.

Ruth Friedman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I recently bought a new wok from the wokshop. I followed the directions using the stove method and then the oven method, but they are not very clear. So I looked up seasoning carbon steel woks, and this is what I found. Does this sound correct? When I initially heated up the wok and saw the bottom turn from silver to purple/black/rainbow I was concerned. But if the following method is correct then I was on the right track. Any thoughts?

Seasoning: To season a new carbon spun-steel wok or to re-season an

old rusty wok, thoroughly scrub it inside and out with soap and a

steel wool scouring pad to remove the manufacturer's protective

coating on a new wok, or the rust on an old one. Rinse thoroughly

with hot water. Some manufacturers apply a coating that is hard to

remove, so set the wok on the stove, fill it with water and boil it

for several minutes until the coating dissolves. Pour out the water

and scrub the surface clean with steel wool and soap.

Set the clean wok over high heat. Heat until a few drops of water

sprinkled into the wok immediately turn into dancing beads. While

the pan is heating, it will change from shiny steel gray to blue,

purple, red and, finally, black.

Dip several sheets of wadded-up paper towel into peanut or corn oil

and wipe the oil on the entire inside surface of the wok (you may

want to use long-handled tongs to hold the towels). Reduce heat to

low and let the wok sit over the heat for 15 minutes to absorb the

oil - the color changes will continue and, hopefully, the bottom of

the wok will darken. In time and with frequent use the entire wok

will turn black. if the surface looks dry, wipe with another thin

film of oil. Remove wok from the burner and let it cool.

Reheat the wok and repeat the oiling and heating process once more

before using it for stir-frying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently bought a new wok from the wokshop.  I followed the directions using the stove method and then the oven method, but they are not very clear.

PLEASE

Scroll up higher in the thread to my previous post. It gives very clear directions.

Basically put a little oil in the pan, get it smoking hot, wash it out with water (no soap) using a copper or SS pad to scrub the interior surface clean. Put the wok over heat to dry it and wipe it clean with a towel. Repeat 4 or 5 times when new, then continue to clean the wok in this fashion after cooking in it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your wok will not be totally seasoned top-to-bottom until you have used it several times. A wok needs several applications of very high heat to acquire a real patina. Once you have it continue cleaning it with a stainless steel pad. Never use soap and put it back on the burner for a minute or so to complete the drying. I like to rub my woks with a paper towel dipped in oil before storing them.

Interestingly enough Cook's Illustrated, in its latest issue, recommends a grill brush with stainless steel pads for barbecue grills (the Grill Wizard). When I ordered this brush its inventor recommended cleaning a very dirty cast iron grill with a pumice before using the brush. I have not tried this yet, but if it works well with cast iron it should do the same for a steel wok.

Ruth Friedman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

In the cookbook thread, FoodMan mentioned that in a BT book there was a section on how to re-season a rusty wok.

Can anyone elaborate on this?

For myself, my $15.00 wok of many years has gone through several rusty periods.

I usually soak the whole inside of the wok with a mixture of half water and half vinegar for a few hours. When it looks clean, I wash it well with soap and water, heat it until the bottom turns blue then drizzle oil over the entire surface. Once it starts to smoke, I let it cool, then wipe off the excess with paper towel. That seems to do the trick.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One time, I put a wok in the 'cleaning' cycle of my oven! It took every last bit of anything off the surface, and left me with a clean, but rusty wok. I then scoured it, got rid of all the 'debris', and started the seasoning process all over. Worked fine. BTW -- that wok had two metal handles. If it had had a wooden one, I would have simply removed the handle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it is periodically getting rusty, you are not seasoning it well enough. I used to have that problem until I followed the instructions in Barbara Tropp's "China Moon" cookbook for seasoning a carbon steel wok (sorry to bring that up again! I think it is also in her "Modern Art of Chinese Cooking" book) - I heated the wok in segments, placing the metal directly against the highest flame I could get on my stove until it changed color completely, then rubbed oil in and repeated. The two woks I have treated this way have never rusted!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am guilty of steaming food in my wok. . . :hmmm:

It's fine if I get it cleaned and dried immediately after cooking, but when we have company for supper, then it gets left until later.

Having to "cleanse and re-season" my wok many times doesn't seem to affect my wok. In fact, this is the same method we used on our four 24" woks at the restaurant on Sundays. This is when we do an all out thorough cleaning on the whole kitchen. It's wonderful to start the week off with clean shiny woks, steam tables, etc.

Cleaning the woks regularly this way avoids any " black specks" coming off onto the food. :biggrin:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I wash and dry a wok, after using it, I always rub a little, tiny, teensy bit of oil in it, and wipe it completely with paper towels. It keeps my woks from rusting. BUT -- don't ever put a wok away glistening with a layer of oil. The liquid in the oil evaporates over time, and you end up with a thick finger-scraping gel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw my mother using a big piece of fat pigskin to mop every new iron wok she bought. She also heated the wok while she was cleaning the wok with the pigskin. She says it can prevent it become rusty. It works; at least we use the wok three times a day.

I am not suggesting you do it too often; otherwise, we should open another new topic of how to clean the grease on the woks. Ha..

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The owner of the Chinese grocery I worked at years ago used to get a panelbeater to "pre-season" the woks with a blow-torch...can't give you any details, sorry, but a blow torch might also help get rid of burned-on old gunk so you can brush it clean and start again.

I've been told that you should heat up a new wok full of oil until it smokes, then allow it to cool in the pan, discard the oil, wipe dry, and leave. However, I would be inclined to heat the wok evenly to cure the film of oil remainins.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

I have been wanting a wok for some time now. Looking at the offerings from The Wok Shop, the different types of woks are dizzying. What would be the best all-purpose wok? I would rather avoid "non stick" since I had one at some point in the past and it was very shoddy.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My family and I use a traditional Cantonese wok that's older than I am by a few years. It's around 13", I think (haven't measured it ever). And it pretty much does everything. Steams, braises, stir-fries(of course), deep fries. You name it, it can probably do it. Doesn't serve as a weapon as well as a cast iron skillet would, but is great as a shield.

It really depends on what you plan to do with your wok, how often you're going to use it, and your stove. Breath of a Wok by Grace Young has an excellent primer on woks in the introduction, and more info is spread throughout the book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Breath of a Wok by Grace Young has an excellent primer on woks in the introduction, and more info is spread throughout the book.

Thank you! My wife works at the main library in our town, so I just shot her an email to bring that book home!

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Buy a couple of sizes, eg: 14" and a 12" one. That should cover ALL domestic cooking needs. They should be carbon steel, ie: the stuff that rusts. Stay away from non-stick and stainless steal. You can pick up a good carbon steel wok in any Chinatown for about $10.-$15. If you have electric burners on your range it is almost imperative that you buy a flat bottomed wok. It doesn't matter with gas.

When I had an electric range, I did not use a wok, as I found that a large frypan/saute pan works best of all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see what you mean by the selections at the Wok Shop. Quite a list!

But, as Ben said, a plain, good quality carbon steel will serve you well. If you can buy two, go with a 14" and a 12". If you can only buy one, I would say the 14"er.

I have woks with just the side handle, but it is easier to use the ones with 'helper' handle --- the long handle that you can grasp.

Also, I use a separate cheap stainless wok just for steaming. You don't have to worry about losing your patina on your seasoned wok.

In that listing, the 'Stainless from China' has some fairly inexpensive ones. 14" for $14.95 isn't bad. I have a couple of sizes of that cheap stainless (or some sort of shiny metal) and I use it constantly -- for steaming, for boiling noodles, for mixing stuff. Very handy!

Do you have access to an Asian market?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Carbon steel and cast iron seem to be the most popular choices in woks. Stainless steel and non-stick are just... crap. But, I'm wondering - is there any difference in use between a carbon steel and cast iron wok? I think the cast iron would impart more wok hay, wouldn't it? And the only woks I've seen restaurants use are cast iron. What makes carbon steel better for the home cook?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...