How to Season a New Wok using lard and aromatic herbs and vegetables. High smoking point oil may be used as a substitute.
A carbon steel wok is an indispensable piece of cooking utensil in a Chinese kitchen. For people starting out on cooking Chinese dishes, the wok is the first piece of cooking utensil you learn to use. There is no Chinese cuisine without the wok.
I remember asking Mom what kind of wok I should purchase when Paul and I got married. The choice of wok depended on the cooking style and size of the family. At that time, I opted for the standard 14 inch (35.5cm) carbon steel round base wok. Until the recent introduction of electric stoves, woks always had a round base for open flame cooking. The first wok that I purchased is still with us to this day.
In Malaysia, the woks usually have 2 small metal handles. When we moved to the United States, I purchased a flat bottom 14 inch wok to be used on my electric range. At that time, I still persisted with the two small handle configuration. Recently, I wanted to employ a different style of stir frying that involved some tossing of the food in the wok. For this purpose, a long pan handle is much easier and safer than my previous wok.
I search the internet and read all kinds of reviews on woks available out there. I finally settled on this 12 inches/30cm Carbon Steel Flat Base Wok. It is manufactured and get this, in of all places, the United Kingdom! Who would have thought! It took a while to arrive from across the pond but it was worth the wait.
If you prefer one that is larger, check out this 14 inches Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok with Wooden and Steel Ear Handle. It looks very similar to the one I purchased except that it has the additional steel ear handle.
The wok is of a lighter gauge which is perfect for my purpose. So far I have used it almost every day for a week and I love the size and feel of it. It handles really well. I scrubbed the wok inside out with steel wool and a little soap. Then I seasoned it in the traditional way using pork lard. This time, I decided to add some aromatic herbs and vegetables as well.
After the initial seasoning, it had a light patina (as seen in the video). I am delighted that it quickly darken after just one week of use. After each use I cleaned the wok with this 7 inch Bamboo Cleaning Whisk and just warm water. I did not use any soap. I dried it with a towel and place it back on the stove for a few minutes for any residual water to evaporate completely. Since it is still relatively new, I then moistened a paper towel with a little vegetable oil and rubbed the inside of the wok all over with the paper towel. I usually omit the last step with my other very well seasoned wok.
I know I am going to enjoy using this wok a lot and can’t wait for the day when it becomes totally seasoned. For now, I will avoid cooking highly acidic food in it so that a nice dark patina will form like my other wok.
If you are serious about cooking Chinese food, I highly recommend that you purchase a wok. It is very inexpensive as compared to all the other cookware out there. You can use it for stir frying, braising, and deep frying. Some people also use it for steaming although I personally prefer not to. If properly cared for, a wok will last more than a lifetime!
I hope you find this tutorial on How to Season a New Wok helpful and will give it a try. Please subscribe to Malaysian Chinese Kitchen Channel for future tutorial and recipe updates.