Carbon Steel Maintenance


“Just like a good cast-iron pan, a carbon steel wok’s performance will improve the more you use it. Most come with a protective film of oil to prevent them from rusting or tarnishing in the store. It’s important to remove this layer before using it the first time. Scrub the wok out with hot soapy water, dry it carefully, and place it over a burner at the highest heat possible until it starts to smoke. Carefully rotate the pan so that every area of it—including the edges—is exposed to this super-high heat. Then rub it down with oil, using a paper towel held in a pair of tongs, and you’re ready to go. After use, avoid scrubbing the wok unless absolutely necessary. Usually a rinse and a rubdown with a soft sponge is all that’s necessary. Purists may tell you not to use soap. But I do, and my wok is still well seasoned and completely nonstick. After rinsing it, dry the wok with a kitchen towel or paper towels and rub some vegetable oil into the surface to give it a vaporproof coating that will prevent it from rusting.

With repeated use, the oil you heat in your wok breaks down into polymers that fill the microscopic pores in the metal’s surface, rendering the material completely nonstick. As you break in your wok, the material will gradually change from silver to brownish and, finally, to a deep black. This is what you are looking for.With proper care, your wok will not only last a lifetime but also actually improve with age.”

Excerpt From The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science J. Kenji López-Alt This material may be protected by copyright.