When you buy a new wok (cast iron, carbon steel, and stainless steel), the first thing you are going to do before using it is season the wok.
The problem is after you season the wok for the first time, do you really need to season it again after that?
Some people complain they still face the problem of food sticking on wok even though seasoning had been done before.
Is it necessary to season the wok again?
Here I am going to discuss this topic and hope it can help you.
Do you have to season a wok every time you use it?
Wok’s seasoning will be lost over time due to the cleaning process, cooked with acidic food, or boiling with high temperature. You have to season the wok every time you use it but not like the first time you season the newly purchased wok. For cast iron and carbon steel wok, you season the wok each time when you cook with oil (frying). Another method is “spot seasoning” which is applicable to cast iron, carbon steel, and stainless steel wok, a simple and quick method before cooking starts.
Is wok seasoning permanent?
Each time after you cook with wok, you are going to clean the wok.
During the cleaning process, the seasoning layer could be washed away by water, soap, or wool scrubber.
Sometimes when you cook acidic food like tomato soap, boiling water at high temperature, these could remove the seasoning layer as well.
So the seasoning layer is not permanent, it will be lost due to some activities that could damage it.
You have to season the wok again or maintain the seasoning.
Cast iron wok & carbon steel wok seasoning are more resilient compared to stainless steel wok.
Cast iron wok and carbon steel wok more resistant in maintaining the seasoning layer compared to stainless steel wok.
This is due to the difference of microscopic structure for different materials.
There are tiny pores on the wok surface which are unable to be seen by bare eye.
Cast iron wok has a bigger and deeper size of pores, followed by carbon steel wok, and stainless steel wok which has the smallest size of pores on its surface.
During the seasoning process, a layer of oil is baked (oil molecules link together to form polymer, known as polymerization process.) on the wok top surface area, and forming a non-stick layer.
Cast iron wok has a bigger and deeper size of pores that could allow the oil to penetrate deeply into the wok.
The deep penetration of oil into the wok makes the wok seasoning more resistant to be washed away by water, but still could easily wash away by soap.
Stainless steel wok’s seasoning could be easily removed by water cleaning due to its smaller pores on the wok surface.
Cast iron wok and carbon steel wok hold the seasoning layer better than stainless steel wok.
Regularly cooking enhances the wok seasoning layer (for cast iron and carbon steel).
To maintain the seasoning for cast iron and carbon steel wok, one of the ways is to regularly cook with the wok and add oil oil, for example frying.
Every time time when you are cooking with wok and adding oil then heating, you are actually seasoning the wok again.
The more you use the wok to cook, more layers of seasoning build up and form a strong non-stick surface.
Just keep cooking, you season the wok as you cook.
Use a little amount of soap and non-abrasive objects to clean wok, to prevent seasoning lost easily.
When cleaning the seasoned wok, suggest using water with little amount of soap and don’t use anything which is too abrasive like steel wool and harsh detergent.
Some people even choose not to use soap but only water for washing the wok, this is up to you as some people think it is unhygienic.
My suggestion is that if you prefer to clean the wok with only water but without soap, please preheat the wok hot enough to kill all the bacteria before starting cooking.
“Spot seasoning”, a method to quickly season the wok each time before cooking.
After a newly bought stainless steel wok undergoes a seasoning process, you won’t face the problem of food sticking for the first time cooking with it.
But the second time you may experience the food sticking disaster because the seasoning layer might be washed away when cleaning.
Regular cooking with stainless steel wok doesn’t help as the seasoning layer is not able to stay on stainless steel material with more resistance.
How to solve the problem instead of re-seasoning the stainless steel wok again every time after cooking and cleaning?
Here is a one simple technique that I would like to share with you all.
This simple technique is called “spot seasoning”, it is workable on stainless steel, carbon steel, and cast iron woks.
This simple technique will season the wok every time before you cook, it is very simple and fast.
First, preheat the wok until all the moisture completely evaporated.
Then add sufficient oil to the wok and make sure the oil covers all the bottom surface of the wok.
After that, turn on the heat with the highest setting.
Wait for about 2-3 minutes for the light smoke coming out from the oil, the time of waiting is depending on the type of wok.
Once a little smoke appears, immediately turn the heat to the lowest setting.
About half a minute all the smoke will completely come out.
Finally the wok is seasoned and ready for frying.
To maintain the non-stick properties of the wok, the easiest way is to perform the “spot seasoning” process before starting to cook, it is quick and easy.
Another method is regularly cooking with oil could maintain the wok seasoning layer but steaming and boiling with wok could cause the seasoning layer to be removed, this method workable for cast iron wok and carbon steel wok but not work for stainless steel wok.