How to Season a Wok

published Feb 21, 2008
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(Image credit: Kathryn Hill)

Like cast iron, woks need to be seasoned as well. Properly seasoned woks have a caramel-colored patina on the inside. Seasoning a wok not only helps to impart flavor into your food, but also helps the inside of the wok build up over time to a smooth, non-stick surface.

Since I loaded up on all manners of Asian vegetables and crab at the Alemany Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I’ve been stir frying a lot this week. My weapon of choice is a large, deep wok that I bought at The Wok Shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

I prefer to use the stove top method for seasoning my wok; in this post I’m going to show you how to do this.

1] Scrub your wok in hot, soapy water and then dry it over low heat on the stove.
2] Turn the burner on your stove to HIGH and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil to the wok. I prefer peanut oil, but any oil can be used – sesame, chili, or canola. Coat the wok surface evenly with oil by tilting and turning it.
3] Heat the oil and keep the oil spread across the surface until it starts to “glaze” the wok – in other words, it turns into a thin layer of film. Use a wok spatula to move the oil around and tilt/turn the wok to move the oil as well. Be careful not to spill any oil that would start a grease fire!
4] Let the wok cool and the layer of oil will harden on the surface.

Now you have a seasoned wok!

Over time as you cook with the wok, do not wash it with soap. Clean it by running it under hot water and brushing away food particles with a bamboo brush. Dry thoroughly by heating it on the stove – this will further “cure” the seasoning layer. Then, using a paper towel, add another layer of oil before putting it away.

Proper care of your wok will reward you with delicious food.

This is by Kathryn, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Kathryn!