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May 9, 2009 10:19 AM

Newly Seasoned Wok/Cleaning

Hi Hounds!

I bought a carbon steel wok last week and carefully followed instructions on seasoning. The wok turned out to be a beautifully copper/caramel color and I was thinking it would be great! However in using it last night the stir-fry noodles I cooked still stuck to the sides a bit.

I know I'm supposed to clean lightly and re-oil the wok, but the western side of me says to get the little crust off. The eastern side says leave it, the stuff will burn down and either flake off or contribute to the patina and seasoning of the wok.

Which side is right? I know I can't scrub the wok but I want to.... So far I've rinsed it with water, used a non-abrasive sponge (no soap) to rub the burned parts, and then heat-dried it on a high flame. I oil the wok before I put it back into the cupboard.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. If what you see looks like carbon and isn't a really unusually thick crust, I'd be tempted to leave it because of what is said here:
    And here with a pic:

    But then, I read this book excerpt... my final advice is to follow it... would default to this author as the authority.

    1. I've successfully used salt to clean both my seasoned wok and my seasoned cast iron cookware-- it's abrasive, but not *too* abrasive. Otherwise, I find that food sticks to the "crusty" bits the next time I use the pan.

      1 Reply
      1. re: katkl

        me too, use the courser stuff if you have it.

      2. You should clean your wok then reseason if necessary.

        You may find you will need to use more oil than you did.

        1. Do you have restaurant type gas burners that can deliver raging heat? If not you may do better with a heavy skillet. Americas Test Kitchen showed their research that in a home cooking environment the wok loses heat too rapidly when food is added if you do not have a restaurant type heat source. A heavy skillet was better for stir frying.

          I clean my cast iron with scrub brush and water, no soap or salt, and dry over medium high heat with some fresh grease. I have a flat glass cooktop so a wok is out of the question for me.

          1. I would scruff it.. a new wok is not suitable yet for fry noodles, what is stuck on there is alot of starch and it will come off as flakes in the next meals.

            Scrub it down with a chore boy pad if you need, buy a mixture of mostly chives, some garlic and ginger optional, and stir fry at highest heat but don't eat it.
            I don't know it is superstition or something in the chives, but that is what every chinese do, for generations.

            5 Replies
            1. re: CACook

              My thoughts exactly. A brand new pan will almost undoubtedly no be 100% ready for all kinds of stir frying. I just think stomsf tried too much too early.

              1. re: SQHD

                Guilty.... :o)

                Well off to scruff then re-season. Oh well, at worst I'l buy a new one. Nice that they're so cheap!

                My seasoning practice last time was to heat ~1 cup of salt in the wok, then let cool, clean with water then heat on stove to dry. 2nd seasoning was to coat with peanut oil and bake for 20 mins at 350. Combination of two methods from the Wok Shop, but it seemed to work. This time perhaps I'll do it a few times....

                1. re: stomsf

                  Don't do it "a few times" as with all things seasoning, from cast iron to carbon steel, seasoning takes TIME! You will not get good results by trying to rush through a process that takes months.

                  Above all, don't buy a new one! It's not the pan's fault, it's the cook.

                  1. re: stomsf

                    Reading your post made me dig out my wok, it was all sticky in some spots. I heat it up and wiped off what seems to be a grease layer.

                    Then I applied lard inside and out, and let it smoke a bit.. I have a high power outdoor burner 65K BTU, so I just roll the wok around to heat all the spots while wearing a welding glove.

                    Baking instruction from Wok Shop is good and is what I did initially, what I should have done is to use crisco or lard because I feel oil have more sticky issues. (sticky to touch, not that the food stick when heated)

                    For now you can stir fry meat, vegetable... the animal fat will help build the seasoning. I think deep frying a few times is even better. Since your wok is at rookie status, resist the urge to make stir fry noodle/ starch products. When you feel it is ready you can try some fried rice, then the ultimate goal when it is a very seasoned wok you can make "chow fun" (a rice noodle) which sticks like crazy..

                    what I understand from using my wok with a properly designed burner.. with tricky food like chow fun or even some meat, you still need to put quite a bit oil. The super heat smokes the oil and more or less it disappears so not all oil ends up in the food. It is done in less than one minute. This is my understanding of "Wok Hei", because when I cooked this way, I can taste Wok Hei... other may interpret it differently.

                    Doing this at home stove with a less ideal burner.. lower heat.. It's likely you will still get sticking no matter what.. or you put in a ton of oil and it becomes oil soaked noodles.. Don't be discouraged, you can still find the compromise with less oil and a small amount of sticking. Many Chinese home cooks have accepted this as normal.

                    1. re: CACook

                      Thanks CACook! I suppose I did get a bit too adventurous with going to a Chow Fun recipe right away.

                      Will go for more stir fry in the meantime. The lard/Crisco idea is also appealing, I may have to try that.