View a video of Tane Chan of Chinatown's The Wok Shop On Wok Puns and How to Season a Wok.
Watch "Wrongs in Woking" and wok right featuring Grace Young author of "The Breath of a Wok."
Care and Seasoning of your Wok -- Three Methods
The most important step in the care of your wok is to season it properly before use. As the wok is used, it will gradually become a darker color which results in a smooth, non-stick cooking surface. We at the Wok Shop recommend three methods for initial seasoning, all of which we have tested in our own kitchens. Choose the method most suitable for you.
Stovetop Seasoning Method
Scrub the wok in hot soapy water to remove the oil preservative which is applied in manufacturing. Dry thoroughly over heat. The Chinese then “burn” the wok. To do this, ﬁrst place the wok over high heat until it is hot. Put about 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil into the wok. Spread the oil completely the wok back and forth. Continue heating the wok until the over the inside surface with a spatula and by tipping oil “burns” into it. Use caution to prevent a grease ﬁre. After cooking, wash the wok under hot running water using a bamboo brush to loosen the food particles. Dry immediately by heating on the stove. A light coat of oil may be applied as a preservative.
Oven Seasoning Method
First, wash the wok thoroughly and dry over heat. Next, coat the wok, inside only, with cooking oil. Bake in the oven at 450° for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, wash (scour) and dry over heat again. Repeat this process three or four times. Your wok should look bronze in color when seasoned this way. Note: If your wok has a wooden or plastic handle that cannot be removed, cover the handle with a damp dishcloth then cover the dishcloth with foil before baking. This will keep the wood or plastic from getting scorched or melting.
Salt Seasoning Method (gas stove only)
First, wash and dry wok thoroughly. Pour at least 1 cup of table salt into wok. Sit wok on gas burner and with gas ﬂame on high, stir salt constantly for 20 minutes, up and around the sides, too. Voila! Wok is now black and seasoned. Wipe clean and with paper towel with little cooking oil, coat the wok. It is now seasoned and ready to use.
Hints for Cooking in Your Wok
The secret of good wok cooking is using high initial heat to seal in the juices with hot oil while stirring constantly. Vegetables are probably the most important ingredients in most basic Chinese dishes, and to prepare them correctly a wok is required. Then the wok will impart "wok hee" (wok flavor). The "wok chow," or quick cook method: Vegetable pieces are dropped into a small amount of hot cooking oil in the bottom of the wok and tossed until hot oil forms a film on the sides, sealing in the flavor. The heat is then reduced and while stirring constantly, a small amount of water is added to steam the food.
Always preheat your wok before adding cooking oil. Then preheat the oil before cooking.
Hints for Cleaning Your Wok
After cooking, wash the wok under hot running water using a brush (preferably bamboo) to loosen the food particles. Dry immediately by heating on the stove. A light coat of oil may be applied as a preservative.