Got a Wok at a garage sale. Got some questions about it!
Here's a link to some pictures of it...
Is it a nice (or bad) Wok?
What is the discoloration? Seasoning?
Should I take some steel wool to it and completely clean it then season it myself?
The only marking is "TAIWAN 2005" at the base of the handle.
What should I cook with it first? Any comments about how to cook with a wok will be very helpful!
Thank you! No need to answer all the questions. Just do what you can :
*If the Link doesn't work, I added photos to domsumgirl's comment
You got plenty of replies, but haven't written to tell us if you found out what you needed to know. Well, it's bee only about a week so I'll add some of my opinions. First, I see an electric range behind it, which is a bit harder to use a wok with than a gas range. But the wok is the right kind to be used with an electric range. That's because the flat part can press down against the coils to allow maximum heat transfer. Is the underside of it copper? If so, that would be pretty fancy, and useful because copper conducts heat pretty well, and that extra heat conduction would come in pretty handy on an electric stove. It looks like the previous owner never cleaned the varnish off of it. Some solvent might come in handy getting all of the non-metal off of it before you season it. Did it come with a lid? On an electric stove a lid comes in handy because you're working with less heat than you'd have on a gas stove.
The wooden handle impedes seasoning in an oven. You may want to find out how to get the wooden part off of it so you can season it in an oven. Otherwise, a gas stove would be nice for the first few times you season it, because you might not be able to get the whole of it hot enough for seasoning it on an electric stove.
Just heat it up as hot as you can, put some peanut oil in it, it will smoke, and wipe it with a wad of paper towels. After using it, rinse and lightly scrub with a bamboo brush or vegetable brush. Heat and re-oil. Do that every time you use it and it will build a nice seasoned finish that will be like Teflon. heating it and oiling and heating before using will kill any germs. Never use steel wool, or soap or a dishwasher. If some food is stuck, then let it soak in warm water and scrub it out. If you season it properly nothing, other than eggs, will ever stick to it. I burn mine out to clean it. I cook on my LPG fish cooker for added heat, but outside. Remember, "Hot Wok, Cold Oil" You'll never have a problem. If you don't like the looks of a seasoned wok, I wouldn't use one. The Stainless steel suck, non-stick coatings come off and electric ones don't get hot enough to stir fry. I've had the same one for 40 years. Enjoy!
It looks Fine, expect it's a flat bottom Wok and a little harder to manipulate food in it, but not a problem if have electric stove. I personally, use my Fish fryer for the added heat. Wash it and then burn it. Let it get as hot as you can to burn everything off of it. Then add a bit of peanut oil, it will smoke so have a good ventilator on, and take a wad of paper towels and rub it all over the wok. Let it cool and wipe it again with those same towels. When you use it next after you take whatever you cook out, put some warm water in it and scrub it out with a bamboo brush or some kind of scrub brush. For get steel wool and scouring pads. You'll just remove the seasoning. Then put it back on the stove heat it up re-oil, wipe and put it away after it cools. Heating it befoe
It looks to be a carbon steel wok.
<Is it a nice (or bad) Wok?>
<What is the discoloration? Seasoning?>
The darker yellowish color is the seasoning. The lighter and sliver color is scratch marks on the seasoning -- e.g. metal.
<Should I take some steel wool to it and completely clean it then season it myself?>
I would re-season it.
<What should I cook with it first? >
Onion or green oil or garlic....etc and then toss them away -- do not eat.
Oh. Some people believe (rightly so) that a new carbon steel wok has heavy metallic smell and favor. Even if you first seasoned it, there are still residue. The idea to stir fry strong favor vegetables like chives, green onion, onion...etc -- to both (a) seasoning the wok one more time and to (b) remove the residue smell as well as chemicals..
"New woks may cause a slight metallic taste to the first two or three dishes. To eliminate the taste you can rub a piece of cut ginger all over the wok. Or simply stir fry some cheap veggies (ones you don't mind tossing out) like celery with some ginger to get rid of the metallic taste also to learn how to operate and adjust to your new wok. "
"Your wok will develop a nice patina and will get to a point where it will be almost non-stick.
After the wok has been seasoned, it would be a good idea to preheat the wok, add a little bit of cooking oil (1 tsp) and pre heat the oil; then add some pungent veggies. e. g.sliced onions, green onions, ginger, garlic and stir fry in the wok until burned......then toss out the veggies. Your seasoned wok will be ready and the wok will be so nice"
Pouchie, there does look like there is some rust on the wok, so I'd be careful... Your wok probably looked like this one on Amazon when new:
I've seen these same carbon-steel woks at many Chinese markets in NYC and NJ. They average about $20. Personally, for the $17 differential, I'd have gone with a new wok and start seasoning from scratch. Think of your wok as a small investment...
That being said, if you decide to keep your garage sale wok, make sure to scrub the rust off until it's completely gone. I'd first try with a plastic scrubber; if that doesn't work, try the steel wool, but that can affect the surface and potentially cause more rust down the line. Always air-dry your wok and never put it in a dishwasher...
To season, coat the wok with a high-temperature cooking oil like good old Wesson corn oil. Most supermarket vegetable oils will work fine. Safflower, soybean, and peanut oil will also work very well. Don't use olive oil, butter, or lard (Crisco). Heat the wok until the oil JUST begins to smoke. Let it cool to room temperature. Discard the oil and wipe the wok as clean as possible with paper towels or dishcloth. Repeat as often as you can. Each high temp burn and cool will help create that dark, non-stick carbon surface on the wok. Eventually, NOTHING will stick to it and you'll have a commercial-grade cooking surface. Your wok will get better with use and age.
I thought I saw rust in the first picture of the cooking surface. About half-way between the flat bottom and the rim of the wok. There appears to be some rust spots. Could be 'seasoning', too, not sure. The photos are fairly small to tell for sure. I was only advising caution to make sure there is no rust...
The other point I was trying to make was that a wok can be an investment, and is not too expensive of one. Heck, I wouldn't know for sure if the previous owner ever used the wok to catch a drip under the sink... For $20, a new wok is worth it, in my opinion, versus the 'unknown' of a garage sale wok.
Wok looks fine to me. No apparent rust. The seasoning is uneven, but that's normal for a real-world, used wok. It looks more or less like mine.
I'd just get cooking with that. $3 is a great deal. If it's 14" or more, that's a wok that would cost you $20-$30 new.
You Need Grace Young! ASAP. She's the number one expert on everything having to do with woks...
How to season a wok;
I agree. It's not in bad shape, it just needs some aggressive scouring and seasoning. I think the outside 3-4" might be the protective coating carbon steel woks are shipped with that needs to be scrubbed off anyway. The black looks like food residue with metal utensil scratches. A well seasoned CS wok will definitely get dark, nearly black, but that takes some time and cooking and you won't see scratches since the metal has actually darkened.
Scour with stainless steel scrubber and soapy water this first time, after that you don't need soap, it's just to remove that protective coating. Dry on heat, then wipe with oil. Similar to cast iron. To season, cook something that requires a lot of oil and aromatics. Check out Chemicalkinetics comments, below.
I occasionally cook up a large batch of bacon trimmings in my wok, rendering slowly. The wide edges capture the spatters, and the CS will love the seasoning. You can buy at the supermarket some cheap bacon ends in 3# packs, chop it up and let it render. Make sure the bacon doesn't have a lot of sugar in the cure, check the box.
When cleaning your wok after cooking, I like to use a green scrubbie pad, dry on the stove and wipe out with a paper towel and a quarter to half tsp. of oil. Carbon steel pans need the same treatment that CI does, you'll be rewarded with a glassy finish. Woks can be used for lots of non traditional dishes, with a perfect finish they become versatile tools.
The discoloration might be seasoning, but there is not much there. Cleaning it up with steel wool and seasoning it yourself seems like a fine idea.
As for what to cook in it first, you might consider doing some deep fried or shallow fried dishes - something where the food is completely or partially submerged in hot cooking oil. It will add to the seasoning.
Here are a few more thoughts about cooking with a wok:
- don't be afraid to turn up the heat as high as you dare (unless the recipe says to use a low setting)
- the bottom of the wok will be a lot hotter than the sides. This is a good thing. For example it is great for regulating cooking speed of some stuff in your wok is cooking too fast.
- While you could use a western spatula or cooking spoon to stir fry, a Chinese cooking shovel/spatula/turner thingy is far superior to any alternative. They are very inexpensive, so do get one.
- If you have a gas stove, be comfortable turning the flame up or down depending on what stage you are in a recipe. Woks are extremely quick to heat or cool. If you have an electric stove, consider moving your wok off the burner and onto another when you need a lower cooking temperature or have completed a recipe.
Hope that helps.