How to season a wok

How to season a wok

09 March 2022

The wok is a favourite utensil of many a chef, having become an important and well relied-upon part of kitchens around the world.

Believed to have been created in China during the Han dynasty some 2000 years ago, the word wok is derived from a Cantonese word that means ‘cooking pot’. Naturally, having spread out across the continent since its Chinese origins, it has been traditionally used for cooking Asian foods like such as stir-fries – but modern cooking has found a huge variety of uses for the wok across all cuisines, making it an incredibly versatile tool.

If you’re not sure what sets the wok apart from other kitchenware, worry no more. We’ll explain how best to use this reliable kitchen companion – including how to season the wok to have it shine at its brightest.

What is a wok?

The wok is a cooking utensil with a round bottom and high sides, often accompanied with two side handles to allow for easy carrying between the hob and wherever you serve food.

The round-bottom design means that heat is distributed evenly around the whole wok, which is often the downfall of frying pans. This, in turn, improves the wok’s usability and reduces the time taken to cook food.

The wok’s high walls allow for better mixing and even cooking throughout by making it simpler than ever to toss your ingredients. This results in better flavour across the entire dish and less risk of any part of it going undercooked.

What are the different types of wok?

Over the course of thousands of years of history, the wok has taken on several different forms to adapt for cooking different kinds of dishes. With several options on the market, it’s important to understand which kind will best suit your cooking habits before you make your purchase.

Carbon steel

This is the most commonly used wok in Chinese restaurants, which is testament to how reliable carbon steel is as a material for cooking – it offers chefs fast and even heating as well as the durability to pull extended duty. Once you know how to season a carbon steel wok, you’ll be able to impress anyone for whom you cook with great food.

Cantonese

These woks are the ideal choice if you expect to be serving a large number of people at once, thanks to their bigger size. They are equipped with two U-shaped handles to allow for easy transport of the wok around your kitchen.

Mandarin

This style of wok is fitted with the same round bottom but has a long wooden or metal handle, which makes it easier to flip your food safely, allowing for a great transfer of flavour throughout the entire dish.

Why do I need to season my wok?

To get the best out of your wok, it will first need to be seasoned. This is particularly important to do before you use it for the first time, as it is possible that by-products from the factory in which the wok was made may linger and these could affect the flavours in your food.

Seasoning your wok will help to strengthen the flavour into your dishes while reinforcing a smooth, nonstick surface to the wok – something that will make your life easier in more ways than one.

How to season a wok for the first time

Now that you know why we do it, it’s time to learn how to do it. Here are the steps to follow to ensure that your wok is seasoned successfully.

  1. Scrub your wok with hot and soapy water before drying it on a stove on low heat.
  2. Increase the heat to a high temperature and add three tablespoons of oil to your now-dry wok, swirling around the oil to ensure that the surface of the wok is completely coated.
  3. Continue to heat the oil until it creates a glaze on the surface of the wok – this should look like a thin layer of film.
  4. Take the wok off the heat. The layer of oil will then solidify on the surface, leaving you with a fully seasoned wok that’s ready to use.

Although there are now woks on the market which are nonstick as soon as you take them off the shelf, you can still treat those in the same way to be extra-sure. If you were wondering how to season a nonstick wok then you need simply follow the same steps above to be confident that your product is as ready as it can be.

Buy incredible woks from Circulon

Cooking a banquet for lots of guests? You’ll want to make everyone’s mouth water with food packed with flavour and cooked to perfection by buying a wok from Circulon. Each wok comes with a lifetime warranty which means that you’ll enjoy years of cooking with your new favourite kitchen utensil.

If you need more than just a wok then you can Build a Bundle with us and receive 20% off when you purchase three Circulon products from our range of cookware.

With so many great – and subtly different – options available, it can be difficult to be sure which is the right wok for you. If you need any help or advice, please contact us and we’ll do our best to answer any questions that you may have.