How To Properly Season and Maintain a Wok

Here at FeastBox, we care about good cooking gear as much as we care about good food. Along with good quality ingredients, good quality and properly cared for equipment is an essential part of ensuring your dishes are as tasty as they can be! We will be mapping out the simple steps you need to properly season a new wok, or if you already have one, properly maintain it!

What is seasoning a wok and why do we do it?

No seasoning a wok doesn’t not involved coating it with herbs and spices; rather it’s the process of creating a protective layer, or ‘patina’ over the wok’s entire surface. This involves burning thin layers of oil onto the surface of a carbon steel or cast iron pan. This process allows the oil to polymerise (turn from a liquid to a solid) and form a microscopic layer over the entire pan. The oily, protective film serves to protect the wok’s metal from rust and corrosion, whilst forming a great non-stick surface. Remember, you don’t need to do this for non-stick versions as the protective coating has already been created for you.   

How to season your new wok

Firstly, if you have purchased a new wok you will need to remove the invisible protective film that is sprayed onto the wok in the factory to help preserve it before being sold. To do this, boil water in the wok for five minutes, when this is finished, throw away the water and lightly scour the entire wok with soap and water, then dry immediately. Don’t forget to also do the bottom of the wok. After drying, quickly place the wok over a high heat to evaporate any water residue. This is in order to ensure no oxidation occurs from the water which can stain or rust the pan.

Next, take an oil with a high smoke point such as vegetable oil or canola oil and pour a small amount onto a dry tea towel that you don’t mind getting dirty. At this point you may want to turn on your extractor fan or open a window as things are going to get smokey! Lightly spread a thin film of oil around the heated wok, ensuring to cover the entire wok, including the underside.

Soon, the oil will begin to smoke and burn - this is the oil polymerising and forming the patina. If using a carbon steel pan, your wok should begin to change colour from gunmetal silver to a slightly iridescent black. Continue to heat the pan, ensuring you tilt and turn the pan so the entire wok receives direct heat. Once it is no longer smoking, you have completed one layer of seasoning. To sufficiently season your wok, repeat this process two more times. When the wok’s glossiness has gone and is now matte, all the oil has been burnt off and the wok has been seasoned.

How to maintain an old wok

If you’ve already got a wok but wish to re-season it, follow the same simple steps as mentioned above. Maintenance of your wok is key to ensure the patina stays intact. For cleaning purposes once you have seasoned your wok, do not use soap. Soak your wok in warm water for five minutes after use in order to loosen up any leftover residue and wipe away with a soft cloth in order to protect the patina. Dry immediately over low heat before storing. 

Common Mistakes

The biggest mistake people make when seasoning a wok is using too much oil. Less is more, with a handy tip being to imagine you are buffing your car with polish, aiming for a smooth glide but leaving no remaining residue. If you pour any oil in the pan or put too much on the cloth so that it begins to bead or drip you have used far too much oil. Too much oil will leave dots all over the finished wok, but more importantly the oil will struggle to polymerise leaving a sticky residue on the pan. 

In light of Lunar New Year, it’s time to whip the wok out because we’ve gathered some of our favourite, authentic dishes from all over Asia. From Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles, Indonesian Chicken Chicken & Curry Leaves and Prawn Jiaozi, FeastBox is here to bring bring the festive feasts to your home this Lunar New Year. Start your journey today:

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