Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Wok - Does the wok look fine to you
It's been two years since I've posted and I don't post much, but I've read a lot of threads here and there.
The cast iron wok I had [thread from two years ago] broke due to relocating. It cracked when it was dropped, my fault.
So, I got this new carbon steel wok last year and I've been using it weekly. I just want to know, is the wok look fine to you or am I being worried for no reason.
When I first seasoned it, it look beautiful [first picture]
As I used it, the seasoning on the side wore off and looks metallic-like, but the center got darker [seasoned]. Sometimes after I cook food in the wok, I get this weird dry rust color. Other than that it works fine, I've been avoiding acidic food and I tried to cook eggs one time and that didn't pan out well.
Picture 1 - Seasoned 1-2 times when I got it last year
Picture 2 and 3 - What it looks like in its present state
Picture 4 - The whole wok
This thread has that unfortunate tone that seasoning is something you do in one afternoon, and then after that, BY GOD, why isn't my wok staying carbon black and completely non-stick!
Don't fool yourself—you can consider your basic seasoning done after 6 months of usage, with at least 2-3 times per week of usage. If you are only using your wok once a week, the basic footprint of seasoning will take closer to a year. And truth be told, you won't encounter that magical flavor of seasoning for 2-3 YEARS (longer again, if only using 1x per week).
This is why well seasoned woks are precious to many Asian families and passed down through the generations. There is just no short-cut to the intense seasoning process, other than regular use with light cleaning.
You can re-darken the parts that are turning lighter, and best method is to heat over a flame (outdoor propane burners work wonderfully) until smoking and then rub oil in (I like peanut oil) all while it smokes. Do this over and over to the interior of the wok, until you get the color you want. You can be careful, but I always get some burns on fingers (then again I'm not happy until reaching a carbon blackness), and end up hacking and coughing from too much smoke in my lungs. After this hand seasoning, stir fry an entire onion with lotsa oil, alternating between hot hot and medium temps—sometimes letting the onions and oil start to smoke so bad you cannot even see the onions, and then backing off on the temp so that the smoke is just a little. Again, this is ideally done outdoors over a STRONG burner.
Doing the above process a dozen times in the first 6 months is the best shortcut I have found to getting a good seasoning established, but it's a PITA (burnt fingers and coughing) and some work! However you can get a very dark wok, with seasoning that will not scrape away or fade much, particularly on the sides, within 6 months or so—depending on regular usage. If this is too much for you, just use the wok (and let things occasionally stick before soaking in water to gently clean) and in a few years it should be turning very dark indeed.
But if using "shortcuts", while your wok might be dark in color, the true magic of long time built up seasoning will still be absent. This kind of true seasoning only comes after years, decades...!
<It's been two years since I've posted >
Fortunately or unfortunately, I remember you because of your unforgetable icon (panda fox)
Oh. This looks like a very nice wok. Good geometry, optimal thickness, and it looks to be a hammered wok.
<When I first seasoned it, it look beautiful >
Actually, picture 1 looks ok, but looks a bit incompleted seasoning. Did you do a low temperature seasoning or seasoning in an oven.
Picture 2-3 look more normal to me. The downside as you have mentioned is that you are losing the seasoning slightly above the wok center. What I will say is that the seasoning at the very center/bottom is what you want. The seasoning on the edge (which is the same as your very original seasoning) is not durable seasoning and cannot handle real cooking for long.
<I get this weird dry rust color>
Explain. Do you see redish-orange color? If so, it is indeed rust. What you can do is to give a quick scrub with salt and oil to remove the rust, and then perform a very quick stovetop (not oven) seasoning. Heat the empty wok until it starts to faintly smoke. Pour in a tablespoon or two of cooking oil. Swirl the oil around the hot wok for 10 seconds or so. Dump the oil. Wipe the wok.
<I tried to cook eggs one time and that didn't pan out well.>
Aren't those red pandas adorable?
Yeah, its suppose to be the same wok as in Grace Young's Book "The Breathe of the Wok". I got another one sitting in the closet in the box still.
Picture 1 - Didn't realize it was an incomplete seasoning, kinds of bums me out. I used the oven method.
Picture 2 - That's good to hear [the center] Yeah its like light orange color. I do use salt and oil method after I rinse with warm water and sponge.
Eggs - Sticks everywhere. It's easy to remove when soaked with hot water. Only time it doesn't stick is when I cook in low temp with butter.
<Yeah, its suppose to be the same wok as in Grace Young's Book >
I have pretty good eyes, huh? ;)
<Didn't realize it was an incomplete seasoning>
Maybe incomplete is the wrong phrase, but it is one of those seasoning surfaces which won't last for wok cooking. I know this from experience. The seasoning produced by the oven tends to do this due to the low temperature, which is why I recogenized right away.
<Yeah its like light orange color. I do use salt and oil method>
The salt scrubbing (or any scrubbing) will remove the rust. You will still need to seal the surface. The orange color rust indicates there are exposed areas, so a quick stovetop seasoning will seal the exposed area.
<Eggs - Sticks everywhere>
Did you use cooking oil? Or did you just cook the eggs straight? If you cooked the eggs without any oil, then it is normal. If you used some cooking oil (butter or not), then it should not stick. Probably your wok is still a bit new. In time, the eggs won't stick on it.
Please don't feed the red panda any eggs.
I won't feed the red pandas any eggs :(
I cooked eggs with butter/oil. Yah, the wok is still new.
Just wondering then, what should I do with the incomplete seasoning on the side of the wok?
I just did a quick search, but didn't see any threads for it.
You can buy Cen Lian Gen's hand hammered wok in the states. Williams Sonoma sells it as "Artisan Hammered Carbon Steel Round Bottom Wok with Ring"
At the time, I emailed to Grace Young and she said and confirmed Williams Sonoma sells Gen's wok; so it' legit.
Used to be $79, but they bumped it up to $99 and internet only. They don't have it in display for some reason [probably cuz it looks ugly in gray], but you can ask if they have it in stock or you can just call them. I picked two up in Edina, MN last year.
<You can buy Cen Lian Gen's hand hammered wok in the states>
I bought a $20 Willima Sonoma hand hammered wok, but it is not very thick, and it looks to be mostly machined (finished by hand hammered maybe). See the first four picture (top panel). It is good, but not great. The price is fair though ($20 for machined wok).
Instead, I searched and bought a real hand hammered wok from e-wok of Shanghai China:
The wok is not too expensive, but the shipping (from China) was costly.
<Just wondering then, what should I do with the incomplete seasoning on the side of the wok? >
You mean the original seasoning 1 inch from the edge, right? You can tilt the wok and directly heat the edge to further season it. Otherwise just ignore it. You will hardly use the edge of the wok to cook anyway.
Maybe the red panda will ask you for eggs after your wok becomes less sticky. :)