This post will teach you how to season a carbon steel or traditional cast iron wok. A cast iron wok is better. Please see Equipment: Wok for the reason why, as well as more information.
Seasoning a Traditional Cast Iron Wok
First, you must get the traditional cast iron wok, which has a round bottom, two small loop handles, is thin, and weighs about 3 lbs. Please see Equipment: Wok for more information on it.
In China, people do not have ovens, so woks are seasoned on the stove. Seasoning in the oven is much easier and seasons more evenly. Afterward, the aromatic ingredients are stir fried in the wok to remove the metallic flavor (trust me, if you do not do it, your first stir fry will taste like iron!!).
Here are my steps to seasoning a wok:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Wash the inside, outside, and handles of the wok with very hot water and dishwashing liquid soap. Scrub with a stainless steel scourer all over the wok. Keep scrubbing and washing until the water is not gray, but not too much (you do not want it to be bare metal).
3. Wipe the wok with paper towels, which will be gray; this is okay.
4. Dry the wok thoroughly over low heat.
5. Heat all sides of the wok over the flame, including handles.
6. Put peanut oil, corn oil, canola oil, or “vegetable oil” (soybean oil) on some folded paper towels. Apply oil in a thin layer, evenly coating the inside, outside, and handles of the wok. The oil should be thin, so if you turn it upside down, no more oil should drip out.
7. Turn the wok upside down on some foil. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
Open all the windows of your house and your door! Turn on exhaust fan; wear a mask if sensitive to smoke.
8. Turn off the oven and leave the wok for one hour. Touch the wok; it should be cool.
9. Wash wok well with hot water and a green scrubber, no soap. Dry with a paper towel, then dry thoroughly over low heat.
10. You now need aromatic ingredients to remove the metallic flavor. You may use the following:
1 large handful of Chinese garlic chives, cut 2-inch lengths (most recommended)
1 bunch green onions, cut 2 inch lengths (1 large handful), plus 1/2 cup ginger, sliced 1/4 inch thick
11. Heat the wok over high heat until you see one wisp of smoke (this is how you tell a wok is hot enough).
12. Add about 2 tbsp peanut, corn, canola, or vegetable oil from the sides of the wok, coating the inside of the wok.
13. Add the aromatic ingredients. Use the wok spatula to stir fry.
14. Stir fry all over the wok. Push aromatics up the sides. Use mitt to tip wok around so all sides get heat. Keep stir frying. During this process the wok will change color.
15. When all the wok changes color and the aromatic ingredients are charred, the wok is ready. Discard the aromatics and rinse the wok with water and no soap.
Care for a Cast Iron Wok:
After using the wok, if there is residue stuck to the bottom, add water. Soak 30 minutes while you eat. Use wok brush or green scrubber, under running water and no soap, to wash the wok. When clean, dry the wok over the stove on low heat. Never use dishwasher!
Seasoning a Carbon Steel Wok
A carbon steel wok can be seasoned without the use of an oven; this is how. I seasoned the wok. First wash the wok using very hot water, dishwashing soap, and a stainless steel scourer. Dry with paper towel, then thoroughly over low heat. Follow steps 10-15 in the Seasoning a Traditional Cast Iron Wok section. If your wok has a long handle, use it to tip the wok instead of a mitt.
Make sure you open all the windows and door, turn on the exhaust fan, and wear a mask if sensitive to smoke.
Caring for a carbon steel wok is the same as a cast iron wok, see Care for a Cast Iron Wok in Section 1.
I hope you enjoy using the wok!