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How to Season & Clean your Wok

Long handle wok

It is very important to season your wok. Seasoning removes the manufacturer's protective coating and coats it with a thin layer of oil, enabling foods to glide smoothly over the cooking surface of the wok. A well-seasoned wok is worth its weight in gold. Not only will food not stick to its blackened surface, flavors are greatly enhanced. Below is a general step-by-step instruction for seasoning a carbon steel wok. However, I'd advise you to adhere to manufacturer's instruction if there is one.

1) Thoroughly scrub it inside and out with soap and a steel wool scouring pad to remove the manufacturer's preservative oil, and rust, if any. Rinse thoroughly with hot water.

2)  Fill it with water and boil it for several minutes. This is to dissolve stubborn coating that can't be removed by scouring. Empty the wok and scrub the surface with steel wool and soap again.

3)  Set the wok over high heat.


4)  When a sprinkle of water sizzles in the wok, wipe some peanut or corn oil on the entire cooking surface of the wok by using paper towels with the help of a long wooden chopsticks or tongs.

5) Reduce heat to low. The wok will start to absorb the oil. Wipe with another thin film of oil if the surface begins to dry off. After 15 minutes, remove wok from the stove and let it cool.

6) Repeat step 1 to 5 and the wok is seasoned!

It is important to properly clean your wok after each use. Run hot water into it and clean the surface using a bamboo brush or plastic scour. Dry it thoroughly. Avoid soap and scouring as these will remove the hard-earned seasoning.

If food sticks or burns, soak the wok well before attempting to clean them with the method mentioned above. Use abrasive material such as steel wool only as the last resort because you will need to re-season the wok if it was scoured this way.

Boiling water in a well-seasoned wok can easily ruin its hard-earned shiny, black patina. Try to avoid this as much as possible.

Like Martin Yan says it "The number one tip for keeping your wok happy and perfectly seasoned is to use it!"

Chinese wok with long wooden chopsticks


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Last Modified: 11/28/11.