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How to Season a New Wok using lard and aromatic herbs and vegetables on an electric stove. Use high smoking point oil 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 because without a wok, there is no Chinese cuisine.
Which Wok Should I Buy?
I remember asking Mom what kind of wok I should buy 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 rounded base for open flame cooking. The first wok that I purchased is still with us to this day.
Flat Bottom Woks for Electric Ranges
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.
Single Long Handle 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 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. This wok is currently out of stock but here is a similar one –> Asian Kitchen Carbon Steel Wok Stir Fry Pan, 12-inch that might interest you.
UPDATE March 26, 2021: 12 inches/30cm Carbon Steel Flat Base Wok is now back in stock.
If you prefer a larger one, check out this Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok, 14-inch. It looks very similar to the one I purchased except that it has the additional steel ear handle.
How to Season a New Wok
This 12 inches/30cm carbon steel flat base wok is of a lighter gauge which is perfect for my purpose. So far I have used it almost every day for a week because I love the size and feel of it. It handles really well. To season it, I scrubbed the wok inside out with steel wool and a little soap. Then I seasoned it in the traditional way using pork lard and aromatic herbs and vegetables.
Everyday Care for your New Wok
After the initial seasoning, it had a light patina (as seen in the video). I was 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.
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- 1 steel wool (wire mesh scourer)
- 1 non-scratch scrub sponge
- 1 unit flat bottom carbon steel wok
- Some dish washing liquid
- 1 piece kitchen towel
- 4 oz pork lard ** (cut into pieces) (113g)
- 8 slices ginger
- 3 green onions / scallions
- 3 Chinese chives
- Scrub the inside and outside of the wok thoroughly with steel wool (wire mesh scourer) and some dish washing detergent to remove the protective oil applied on the wok during the manufacturing process.
- Rinse and wipe dry with kitchen towel.
- Place wok on the stove over medium heat. The wok will start to change to a golden brown color.
- Add pork lard, ginger, scallions, and Chinese chives.
- Using a spatula, stir fry and smear the sides of the entire wok with the pork lard and aromatic vegetables. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Turn off stove. Remove and discard all crackling, aromatic vegetables, and rendered fat from the wok.
- Bring it to the sink. Scrub the wok with non-scratch scrub sponge and warm water. Do not use any detergent. Rinse with warm water.
- Wipe dry with kitchen towel.
- Place the wok back on the stove over medium low heat for a few minutes to dry it completely.
- Using tongs, rub a thin layer of canola oil over the entire surface of the wok with a paper towel. Allow wok to cool completely before storing.
- Wok is now ready for use.
Get a 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!
How to Season a New Wok – Update (February 11,2020)
The patina on my single handle 12 inch wok has darken considerably after 3½ years of almost daily use. It works like a non-stick pan now and is a joy to use. I have had my double handle 14 inch wok for a much longer period of time but set it aside for a while. I only started using it again after I bought the single handle wok. Now, I use both regularly. The larger wok is great for frying rice and noodles.