How to Season an Iron Wok

How to Season an Iron Wok

If you want to make Asian Food which is as close as possible as to what is sold in restaurants then you surely need an Iron Wok. Iron Woks are used by street food sellers all over South East Asia and by chefs in world-class hotels to produce the most amazing and delicious food. If you’ve been trying to make Chinese or Thai food at home and have always found something missing the mark in terms of taste and texture, even though you are putting in every possible ingredient, you need this kitchen beauty to add that Asian flavor to your food. Buy one, treat it well and you’ll be very happy with it for many years as it is going to transform you from being a good cook to a great cook!

The use of an Iron Wok is not just limited to making a stir fry or noodles but can be used for deep-frying, shallow frying, sautéing, pan frying and what not. Once you deep fry something in an Iron Wok you will never want to use any other utensil for deep-frying ever again. Trust me when I say that it’s a very good investment for your kitchen and once you know how to use it, you’ll want to use it for every single dish you make.

In this post, I am going to teach you the following –

  1. How to clean a brand new Iron Wok.
  2. How to season a brand new Iron Wok.
  3. How to cook in an Iron Wok.
  4. How to season an Iron Wok after use.

It is essential to know all about treating your wok well and getting the most out of it. All of the above steps are very easy to follow and there are no complications at all. Let’s get started with the first step.

  1. A brand new iron Wok will look like it’s really old and will be covered with rust. All you need to do is heat up the wok, remove it from the heat and then add a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil and a generous amount of salt to the new Iron Wok. With the help of a tissue or paper napkin rub the salt and oil all over the wok. You’ll see the rust coming away easily. Keep doing this till all the rust has come off the wok. Now wash your wok with dishwashing liquid and water and proceed to the next step.
  2. This is the interesting and fun part. We are going to burn the wok! Now the wok will not actually burn, burning is just a term used when seasoning an Iron Wok for the 1st time. Turn the stove flame up to high and place your wok on the stove. Make sure that each part of the wok gets burned by the flame by turning the wok on all its sides.  You’ll see the wok turning black from the rim to the bottom as you turn it around over the flame. Once the wok is completely black all over, pour a tablespoon of oil from the rim of the wok and let the oil trickle down to the bottom. Turn the wok on its sides ensuring that the oil covers every spot of the wok.
    Once this is done remove the wok from the flame and with a tissue or napkin, while the wok is still hot, very carefully, let the tissue absorb the excess oil from the wok and rub the wok with the tissue all over till what you have is a nice black and gleaming wok. Repeat this step 3 to 4 times to complete the seasoning of your Iron Wok.
  3. To cook, place your wok on high heat and let it turn very hot till you can see smoke coming out of it. Get a squeezy ketchup bottle and add some cooking oil to it. Squirt the oil out of the squeezy bottle down the sides of the wok starting from the very top of the sides. Make sure your hand which is holding the squeezy bottle moves in a circular manner while squeezing in the oil so that most of the wok gets covered in oil. By the time the oil reaches the bottom of the wok, it will nice and hot and ready to use!
  4. After cooking in your lovely iron wok, wash it well with warm or hot water. Scrub gently with a wok brush to remove food particles but do not scrub too hard as you will remove the seasoning and will then have to repeat the entire process given in step 2 all over again. After washing the wok, place it on the stove on high heat and burn the wok on all its sides. Pour in about 1/2 a teaspoon of oil when the wok is nice and hot and swirl the oil all over the wok. Once the oil is evenly spread all over the wok, remove it from the heat and with a tissue remove the excess oil and rub the oily tissue all over the surface of the wok. Once the inside of the wok is done, rub this same tissue over the outside of the wok. This will prevent the wok from catching rust. Always do this and then place your wok in a dry place after use. Repeat this step before cooking.

So what does seasoning actually do to the wok? Seasoning is a process in which the tiny little cracks and crevices seal up when heated, therefore making your wok stick proof and the oil forms a stick resistant coating which prevents food from sticking to the wok when cooking in it. This process allows a thin layer to form on the inside surface of the wok which makes your wok pretty much nonstick! A word of caution – do not use your wok to cook with water when it’s very new as this will remove the nonstick coating which you worked so hard to get.

Also never clean your wok with a scrubber or with dishwashing liquid as this will remove the seasoning. As you use your wok more and more, the seasoning will get better and better which means that your cooking with it will get smoother and smoother! If you do happen to ruin the seasoning of your wok with abrasive cleaning, do not worry! Just repeat step 2 and your wok will be fine again!

This may seem like a lot to do but in actuality, it’s nothing much. And if you want to eat great food like what you get in Chinese and South East Asian Restaurants, a wok is a must and knowing how to keep your wok clean and in good shape is a must. A wok does need a bit of love and care. I’ve made a lot of Thai food such as Thai Red Curry, Chicken with Holy Basil, Thai Sweet and Spicy my dear wok and I love it and treasure it with all my heart. Here is a list of all the Chinese food I have made using the very same Wok!

Get yourself an Iron Wok and start cooking with it! It’s a real joy! Let me know if you ever have any problems while seasoning or using it and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible with solutions to your problems!



4 thoughts on “How to Season an Iron Wok”

  • This is such a useful and important post. Liam and I are very possessive and unreasonable about our cast iron woks. We season it once a a month and never use soap on it.I am sure its perfectly safe to use soap… but we just are stubbornly silly about it. I think its also important to have a pan seasoning habit after every heavy meal cooking session.. just to give that hardworking pan a special treat.

    • Hi Ann! It’s wise to never use soap on any iron cooking utensil. It removes the patina you worked so hard to get with all the seasoning. No scrubbers either! Remember that the nonstick capacity of an iron wok gets better and better with time. So each time you use soap or cold water or a scrubber on your iron wok, you are actually undoing all the goodness of your seasoned wok!

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