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Woks - Buying, Caring and Use of


eatingwitheddie
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I figured there's no reason to season the outside

Of course, there is no need to season the outside.

my oven isn't working right now, so I can't exactly do the bake method.

Very few Chinese people in China have ovens. They only season the inside using the stove top method.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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  • 4 weeks later...

I seasoned my wok a few days ago. I would like to post my experience to share with all of you.

This method worked perfectly for me, (I used bacon fat, and skipped the chive procedure). My flat bottom wok looks almost like the one in the pictures, not quite as dark, stopped at three "bakings". Did one coat on the outside, seemed like a good idea, not sure why. Cooled and wiped one last time, then did a veggie stir-fry, no sticking, no off flavors, and it cleaned up easily.

This does require good ventillation, gets pretty smelly!!

Thanks for this great tutorial, and all the pictures really helped.

I :wub: eGullet!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Just got a new carbon steel and I am starting to season it.

Did some research online and the basic method seems to be:

Heat wok

Rub with oil

Let cook in

Remove from heat and let cool

Repeat

I have been doing it this way, but now I have a section of wok that is sticky. The rest is smooth and oily, but this one section is all sticky.

How do I fix this sticky section? Scour that section and go back to seasoning?

Thanks,

Shane

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Just got a new carbon steel and I am starting to season it.

Did some research online and the basic method seems to be:

Heat wok

Rub with oil

Let cook in

Remove from heat and let cool

Repeat

I have been doing it this way, but now I have a section of wok that is sticky. The rest is smooth and oily, but this one section is all sticky.

How do I fix this sticky section? Scour that section and go back to seasoning?

Thanks,

Shane

It happens... doesn't really matter what kind of oil you use. - just make sure it has a high smoking point and is fairly low in saturated fats (canola, "vegetable", corn, peanut, safflower, sunflower)

Here is how I do it for brand new woks:

Heat wok till SMOKING (burn off oil/protective layer)

Rub with oil (use tongs and paper towel)

Let cook in

Put in sink and pour in room temperature water... scrub out

Put back on heat till smoking

Rub with oil (use tongs and paper towel)

Let cook in

Cool

Rub out with paper towel

Put back on heat till smoking

Rub with oil (use tongs and paper towel)

Let cook in

Remove from heat and let cool

Rub with small amount of oil

Store in cupboard.

Sounds long but only takes 10 minutes and works every time.

Edited by infernooo (log)
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  • 2 months later...

For years, I've relied upon my very basic 14" Western-style carbon steel wok from Joyce Chen (local Boston Chinese chef from back in the day):

gallery_19804_437_3525.jpg

It had two wooden handles (the smaller of which I've broken off since this photo was taken two years ago) and a round bottom, and it's great for stovetop work and lesser portions. However, for many tasks, I need something bigger to use on my outdoor propane burner, so I've been on the lookout for a larger hand-hammered carbon steel Cantonese-style wok.

Thank you, Chin Enterprises on Harrison Ave in Boston's Chinatown:

gallery_19804_437_428602.jpg

This 20" behemoth does not have the fine handiwork of the dream-woks Grace Young photographs --

gallery_19804_437_2347.jpg

-- but I think it will serve me very well indeed. (The oil coating makes it look lighter than it is; it's not made of aluminum, I'm quite sure.)

Obviously, I've got a seasoning project ahead, one that's going to take place on that propane burner. Like Ah Leung, I'll document my approach here. I'm probably going to use the ends of the latest batch of lop yuk for my fat, and I'll grab some chives from the garden. But it's all going to get done on the burner, not in the oven.

More soon.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Thank you, Chin Enterprises on Harrison Ave in Boston's Chinatown:

gallery_19804_437_428602.jpg

This 20" behemoth does not have the fine handiwork of the dream-woks Grace Young photographs --

gallery_19804_437_2347.jpg

Chris: That's the size of wok we used for fried rice only when I had the restaurant.

Lapyuk fat to season - what a waste. :angry::laugh: With all that work in curing, I'd rather use it to make lap mei fan!

My cooks used to season a new wok on the stove too. With the commercial gas stoves, it was much easier, especially when they did it for me.

Will look forward to the seasoning report.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I'm getting ready for this fall's big cure, and those ends are all curled around the skin, which makes skinning them a pain. I also feel like it's not a waste, really, as the fat would be perfect for seasoning.

And fried rice, maw mai fon, noodle dishes... these are the sorts of high-portion dishes that test the size limits of my current wok, so that makes sense to me. Quick, small-portion dishes that benefit from a wok flip I'll still do with the smaller, handled wok.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Prep for wok seasoning. First, the the orka mitt (flawed for many things but perfect for this project), paper towels and tongs, and the sliced lop yuk skin and fat. Oh, and the gospel according to Grace, just for luck:

gallery_19804_437_60704.jpg

I also set this descoware pot and ladle next to the wok burner. That turned out to be a smart move: in the heat (literally) of the moment I was often ladling out or in less or more rendered lard:

gallery_19804_437_65590.jpg

After three scrubbings (dish soap, brillo pad, Bar Keeper's Friend) and lots of rinsing, here's the wok on stove drying. It already started to brown a bit:

gallery_19804_437_43804.jpg

I got set up outside with this well-used patio wok burner. (Please ignore the evidence that I spend more on cooking equipment than on porch maintenance.)

gallery_19804_437_104731.jpg

Got the burner firing and the fat and skin rendering:

gallery_19804_437_3156.jpg

Since this thing gets remarkably hot, I expected not only lots of smoke (got that) but also flame (got that too):

gallery_19804_437_8473.jpg

After the first round of seasoning, it looked like this:

gallery_19804_437_18879.jpg

I needed to focus more on the outside edges, so I went back for round two:

gallery_19804_437_8201.jpg

After the second round, it looked like this:

gallery_19804_437_48217.jpg

Since I have a garden filled with overgrown chives, I wanted to try the chive seasoning step, and I also thought that dousing it in some fresh peanut oil would also be a good idea, since I wasn't sure I had coated the entire surface effectively with the lard (fear of third-degree burns and all). Prep for that:

gallery_19804_437_43636.jpg

The chives in the wok:

gallery_19804_437_41503.jpg

Gave it a final wipe with peanut oil:

gallery_19804_437_10167.jpg

I feel like this high-heat, outdoor approach is very different from indoor approaches. The seasoning surface I've got on this new wok seems better than just a base coat; it has a depth and smoothness that I'd expect after many uses and none of the tackiness that the lower-heat seasoning can create. The method is also very smoky and dangerous: I didn't photograph it, but I had a fire extinguisher handy. Given the size of the wok, the flames, and the hot oil flying around, I can't imagine doing this indoors.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The last photo in round two is where I stopped, Ah Leung, so I'll be counting on that to get seasoned over time. I was getting concerned that the process had been a bit too dangerous, not only because of the flames but because I had to tilt that huge wok precariously to get seasoning up the edges. Going much further would have risked flipping the wok off the cooker and spraying burning oil all over the porch (and me).

Doesn't seem a problem, however: the diameter of the seasoned area on this wok is 16", 2" bigger than the entire surface of my other, 14" wok. In addition, the cooking surface wouldn't really stretch up those sides; in something that large, they're more for containment.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris ----

Great to see these photos!

Aside from my regular woks, I have 2 oversized ones -- an 18 incher and a 22 incher. When I seasoned them, I was able to do the smaller one on my stove. The other one was done on the outdoor grill. As you did, I had to tilt them to get most of the inside surfaces seasoned.

But these woks are just conversation pieces now. They never did get much use except when I did demos for large groups and was able to use industrial sized stoves in their kitchens.

The 18 incher is still useful when doing stuff outdoors for a crowd. Always gathers interest!

What are you going to do with this big wok of yours?

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Thanks!

I cook for medium-sized crowds fairly often, and a lot of noodle and rice dishes spill over the edges of the 14" wok I have. I also have gotten annoyed at times having to clean out a wok to make another dish in a meal, so having two will be better for my needs. As for stove issues, well, you can see the blistering heat source I've got!

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 2 weeks later...
gallery_19804_437_3525.jpg

Interesting setup Chris. Have a couple questions if you get a chance.

Can't say I've seen many round bottom woks on electric stoves. I'm pretty sure my stove gets about as hot as an electric one can get, but can't say I thought it could get a wok hot enough while it sits on a wok ring, which I'm assuming is there. Never had any problems with lack of heat in the wok?

Another concern was something that I'd read about while I was shopping for a wok. I couldn't find a lot of details on it but it was mentioned a few times that using a round bottom wok could reflect too much heat back onto the element damaging it. Any thoughts on that?

I'm not all that happy with my flat bottom carbon steel wok. Since I'll be changing it when I get a new stove anyway I figured I might as well start building up a patina on a new round bottom one now.

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Can't say I've seen many round bottom woks on electric stoves.  I'm pretty sure my stove gets about as hot as an electric one can get, but can't say I thought it could get a wok hot enough while it sits on a wok ring, which I'm assuming is there.  Never had any problems with lack of heat in the wok?

Not really -- but that electric stove is no longer in the kitchen, and I now have one gas burner that goes up to 14,000 BTUs or something like that. There's also that insane flamethrowing wok cooker.

And no wok ring there. Back in the day, for dishes that didn't require high heat (like this one), I would just put the range on the highest setting, place the wok on top, and let it heat up.

Another concern was something that I'd read about while I was shopping for a wok. I couldn't find a lot of details on it but it was mentioned a few times that using a round bottom wok could reflect too much heat back onto the element damaging it. Any thoughts on that?

I've never heard that before. Anyone else?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 6 months later...

Dabbling around here and there in wok cooking, I've gotten the perception that the general consensus about cooking in a wok (at least for stir frying) is that the hotter and faster you can cook food without burning it to a crisp, the better it is, and the more "wok hei" it has. It seems this way since I've seen lots of videos of wok chefs putting the rounded piece of metal over enormous swirling jet flames and food spontaneously igniting while stirring. Of course I have alot of practicing to do before I can get to that level and cook food fast enough without burning it.

However, I have a feeling the adage that "hotter is better" seems to be a little oversimplified. Am I anywhere close?

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I would love to get my wok hot enough for that spontaneous combustion effect too but alas my cooker is not powerful enough and if it was then there is the very real possibility of igniting my cooker's filter thereby burning down my entire kitchen!!! Hotter is better though, as hot as you dare really. My advice is to have everything prepared and to hand. You don't want to leave the wok unattended to look for that bottle of oyster sauce at the back of the cupboard. Also try not to move the wok too much, keep it on the flame so that it stays hot. Practise makes perfect and I've had my fair share of burnt offerings.

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