How clean should a seasoned carbon steel pan be after cleaning?
So I've got my new de Buyer carbon steel pan and used it a couple of times. I'm thrilled with it and glad of the earlier advice that you guys kindly gave.
My new questions this -
How clean should the pan be after washing it. It's discoloured, of course, but there's a noticeable thin coating of dried oil in places. I can feel it when I wipe my hand inside the pan. I can also feel little splattered areas around the rim. I'm not sure if I should be scrubbing these off or if this is the start of the seasoning going on.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
What a pan!
<How clean should the pan be after washing it.>
Not super clean. Rinse with water is definitely ok. Washing with mild detergent is also acceptable after the seasoning surface has settled in.
<but there's a noticeable thin coating of dried oil in places.>
That may be partially seasoned oil. It should appear slightly shiny/glossy, thin, and sometime gummy and soft.
<I can also feel little splattered areas around the rim.>
The rim is not a big problem because it is not touching the food. You can clean it if you want or you can ignore it. Either way is fine.
< if this is the start of the seasoning going on. >
The cooking area is where you need to be concern. Since you have only used your pan a few times, I would not clean it too hard. You can use mild detergent and clean it with a sponge or a soft brush. You can also use a plastic scraper to remove any burned on food. However, I won't use any harsh and strong detergent, no vinegar wash, and no metal scraper.
After you wash the pan with detergent (if you are going to do this), then do a quick stove top seasoning. Just a quick one:
Heat up the pan, pour a thin layer of oil, swirl the oil around. The moment you see a trace of smoke coming off, then turn off the heat and dispose the oil. You can wait for the oil to cool down before disposing it, or you can dump the hot oil -- but be careful. Wipe the pan dry with a paper towel.
Yup, just keep using and using it. I own a couple and the one I've used the most has turned completely black. It is extremely non-stick now and I can use very high temperatures with it. I very recently fried some chicken cutlets in two pans side by side. One of them was my carbon steel pan and the other was my lodge cast iron pan. The carbon steel pan definitely heated more evenly. I used very little oil in both. I own another carbon steel one that I've just recently started using more often and it's exactly at the point that you're describing right now. It's not completely black yet and there's some gummy oil on the sides. Knowing what I know, I'm leaving it be and will just continue to use it over and over again until it seasons like my older one. I wash them with a sponge and liquid detergent but don't obsess over the oil build up. Some heat and some time will eventually smooth those out.