Woks develop a natural patina or discoloration over time, and many people want to know about its appearance. There isn’t one correct way that your wok should appear, but it should darken over time.
Stages of Patina Color Development
- Golden Color
- Light Tan
- Light Medium Brown
- Splotches of different colors are normal (Mottled)
A newly seasoned wok will generally look light-medium brown and may even be mottled. For a new wok, this is fine. Over time, it will acquire a copper or light golden hue.
Finally, within a few years and with plenty of use, a wok will develop an ebony-block patina.
Depending on your wok’s age, you can expect it to have one of these three appearances. A well-used wok should be a rich black color within a few years of use. This color indicates that the wok is being used and seasoned appropriately.
Keeping a Wok Seasoned
Seasoning a wok not only creates a protective coating inside the pan. Every time that you cook using oil, the patina becomes thicker over time and creates a natural non-stick cooking surface.
The patina also prevents corrosion and rust from forming on your wok and will enhance your dishes’ flavor. In carrying for your wok, you should try to preserve the seasoning of the wok over time.
When using your wok, you should avoid boiling and steaming foods. Adding water to the wok can break down its patina. It’s also a good idea to avoid cooking with acidic products in a newly seasoned wok.
Over time, you will be able to cook tomatoes or lemon containing dishes, but avoid them until your wok has started to develop a patina.
Although you can clean the wok between uses, it’s a good idea to avoid any abrasive pads that may scrape through the patina. Cooking, frying, and sauteing in a wok frequently will build up its patina faster.
Seasoning a Wok
There are various methods for seasoning a new wok, and there’s no one correct method. Most chefs have their preferred method.
There are several methods of seasoning a wok but this is my most favorite one:
One simple option that can be used for woks that have oven-safe handles is by seasoning it in the oven. After cleaning the pan thoroughly, coat the inside with vegetable oil, and then bake in the oven on top of a lined sheet pan. Bake the wok at 450-500 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.
If you want to season your wok in your oven and it has a wooden or bamboo handle, try this method. Since I made this video, I would recommend that you wrap the wooden or bamboo handle (if you cannot remove it) with several layers of wet dishrags (not paper like I did).
Then wrap the dishrags with tin foil or aluminum foil. This will help the handle from drying out or burning while it is in the oven.
This high heat will help the oil absorb into the wok safely, and then it can be rinsed gently with warm water to remove any excess oil. Dry completely on the stovetop using high heat. After going through these steps, you can get started using your wok to make favorite dishes.
After you season or cook with your wok it is a good idea to coat you wok lightly with oil. I use regular olive oil or any oil I have on hand. Make sure that there is only a light coating of oil over the entire surface of the pan.
This will keep you wok in great shape and will prevent rust from forming on the surface. When I get ready to use the wok again I wipe the oil off with a paper towel before adding my cooking oil.
If you have a Helen Chen wok, take a look at this video. This particular wok is only 12 inches and is the perfect size for one or two people. This is the second time I used my wok burner by Bass Pro Shop. As I season the wok, you will be able to see the patina developing.
If you like that wok burner it is sometimes on sale. Check this link out at Bass Pro Shops to see if it is on sale.
Here is the Helen Chen 12″ wok I use daily. You can check on the availability here. This wok is small enough for two and is the perfect wok for flipping food. Note: This wok sells out quickly so if it sold out, check back and Amazon should have it back in stock within a short time.
Also, take a look at this Yosukata 11.6 inch wok. This wok is a flat-bottomed, pre-seasoned wok and it will save you the time and effort to season it.
A good quality wok can last you your entire life, especially with good care. Make sure that you follow these guidelines to season your wok and keep it looking great over time.
Your wok will develop a black patina, which will help preserve it over time and add additional flavor to your dishes. Chefs often keep their woks in the family for generations and love cooking stir-fry and similar dishes.
Here is the bottom line> Patina on a Wok is a GOOD THING!