A wok is the most versatile cooking utensil in a kitchen. Considering that cast-iron tends to be a kitchen-favorite when it comes to material, it only makes sense that a cast iron wok becomes the holy grail of utensils.
There are many myths when it comes to woks, the first being that it is difficult to maintain. Remember how we called it versatile earlier? Well, with versatility comes responsibility. It is tough if you do not follow the proper steps. Once you get the hang of that, the rest will fall into place.
Seasoning Your Wok
When you first get your wok you want to make sure that it is preseasoned, like many cast iron woks, or you season it yourself. You can season your cast iron wok in the same method as a carbon steel wok.
The color of a cast iron wok seasoning will look different than that of carbon steel. Carbon steel will yield a black, brown, or tan patina color once it is seasoned. Cast iron, on the other hand, will probably look the same after you seasoning it, if it is not pre-seasoned than it did when you took it out of the box. Cast iron will look black whether it is seasoned or not. B
Below is a helpful video that you can watch to show you step by step on how to season a carbon steel wok. Please note that in the video I am seasoning a carbon steel wok but I would season an unseasoned cast iron wok in the same manner.
The wok burner I used in the video was replaced by this burner and it can be found here at Amazon.
If you do not season or store your wok properly, it will rust. Seasoning your wok is a whole other topic for another day. For now, let’s look into cleaning cast iron woks.
All of Lodge’s pre-seasoned cookware is seasoned with soy-based vegetable oil. No peanut oil or animal fat is used.
How to Clean Your Wok the first time around
Cast Iron Woks usually come pre-seasoned to prevent rusting during transportation from the manufacturer to you. In addition, some woks that are pre-seasoned are done so because the seasoning helps to make the surface of the cast iron wok non-stick and prevents rust when in storage.
- Fill your tub with hot water.
- With a cloth, lightly wipe your wok both on the inside and outside.
- Rinse and repeat this process once more.
- Pad the wok down with a dry towel until it is decently dry.
- Place on the stove and heat it on medium flame to ensure that it is dry. Even a drop of water left-behind can cause instant rusting.
- I would personally put the wok on HIGH heat for 30 minutes to kill any bacteria that might be left on the wok after washing.
- If you are so inclined, you may use a very light detergent when washing your wok but remember that you might remove some or all of the seasoning. So take it easy on the washing.
How to Regularly Clean your Wok
By now, your wok has probably gone through a couple of rounds of cleaning and then seasoning. Now that your wok is seasoned, this is where the confusion arises.
“If I clean the wok again, won’t it remove the seasoning?”
The question is valid, considering that you did use soap and water to get rid of the factory seasoning. The difference lies in the fact that first-time cleaning is much more abrasive. Here is how you should be cleaning your work after seasoning.
- Rinse the wok for a couple of minutes
Place the wok in a sink full of hot water for a couple of minutes. It allows any residue food particles to come off the wok, making the cleaning process easy.
2. Scour the Wok
Once your wok is wet, start the cleaning. Avoid using steel wool for cleaning your wok. The abrasive nature of the scrub can remove the seasoning. Sometimes I use Kosher salt because it is coarse and helps to remove food that might be stuck on. I also use a paper towel when using salt. Nothing to worry about if you do accidentally remove the patina while cleaning. Just re-season the wok.
Before I even think about scrubbing my wok, I take a used credit card and scrape the sides and bottom of the wok. This always works to rid the wok of food that might be stuck on.
Ideally, make use of a bamboo wok brush or this bamboo cleaning scrub brush for wok scouring. The less abrasive it is, the better. Soak the wok in water to remove hard-to-remove food particles. Do not wrestle to get them off.
3. Dry completely
Drying is a vital part of maintaining your wok. Heat it on a medium flame for a couple of minutes till all traces of water has evaporated. Wet woks equal rust, and unless you want to season from scratch after every other use, we suggest patiently waiting a few minutes.
4. Oil the wok
The non-stickiness of a wok increases with every cleaning because of this step. Once the wok is dry, apply a thin coat of oil before storing it (referred to as ‘seasoning’). If you plan on using it the same day or next, this step is not necessary.
What Not to Do
Do not scrub abrasively, or you might lose the patina. It means re-seasoning your cast iron wok to get back lost protection.
Do not dish-wash woks. You might find yourself with a colossal mess if you try this with woks.
Leave your wok wet. However much it is seasoned, wet woks are not a good idea, ever.
Cleaning cast iron woks are not that hard. With a little bit of practice and these proper instructions, you should be good to go.