Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Feb 16, 2011 07:42 AM

My wok turns food grey!

I have noticed that when I cook purplish vegetables in my seasoned aluminum wok, the food turns an unappetizing grey color. What's going on? Is it safe to eat?

For example, last week I cooked fried rice in the wok and used some red onions (well, you can decide if the onions are really red or purple...). It all turned a gross grey color. I remember this happening in the past when I stir-fried some eggplant and garlic in the same wok.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. how well seasoned is it? im not 100% sure, but it sounds like the food is reacting with the aluminum.
    my suggestion would be to switch to carbon steel if that is possible.

    1. I believe onions are acidic and that the problem as aluminum is a reactive metal. When you clean aluminum with certain chemicals the sponge of towel turns dark gray. That's probably what's happening with your food as food contains chemical substances. .You need to get another wok that's non reactive and won't react with any food you cook in it. Even if your food doesn't change color it's still leaching aluminum into the food if it has enough acid in it.

      1. I thought there might be a reaction to the aluminum too.

        Last month on the Home Cooking board we cooked from 2 cookbooks written by Grace Young. We had a Huge discussion about woks and seasoning them as Ms Young had talked about in her books. You might like to read those remarks. I'm sure they'll help you decide which kind of wok to buy and how to season it properly. Grace Young has been called "the Poet Laureate of the Wok."

        Here's the COTM master thread which has our discussion, and links to the reports of the different recipes we cooked, including more wok discussion:

        Here's Grace Young's web site: