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Best Oils for Seasoning Your Carbon Steel Wok

Seasoning a wok is an essential step for every chef or cook who is planning to use this kind of cookware. The thing is that seasoning is not an option - it is absolutely necessary to season a carbon steel wok, regardless of how you have received it, pre-seasoned or seasoned. Besides, the material of your wok also does not influence the necessity of seasoning.

Why do you need to season it?

To create a protective layer all over the surface of a wok; To ensure that the food you are going to cook will not stick to the surface; To prevent the necessity to deal with hard food remnants on the wok surface, which is a problem of those who have either skipped the seasoning stage or have done it incorrectly.

As you have already understood how essential it is to season a wok, here are other two aspects for consideration. First of all, it is necessary to select the best oil for seasoning carbon steel woks. Also, you will need to learn the correct sequence of the seasoning process. Only in this way will you be able to ensure that the dishes you cook on your carbon steel wok are healthy, nutritious, and look mouth-watering, while the process of preparation will not be spoiled by sticky particles of meat or vegetables.
If you have been thinking that seasoning is not something you would like to deal with and decided to look for an already seasoned wok, we would like to disappoint you. In the process of using a wok pan, it will be necessary to eventually reseason it. Even if you have bought a seasoned wok and decided not to clean it after receiving it from the store (which is also not the best decision), mastering the process of seasoning is inevitable. Therefore, we suggest you read our guide on the selection of the best oil for wok, the method of seasoning, and oils that should not be used for this purpose.

Carbon Steel Wok: Why to Season It?

Carbon steel is typically used to manufacture cookware for ovens. The main types of carbon steel cookware used on the stove are woks and small pans. One of the most important advantages of this type of steel is that its price is lower than the cost of woks manufactured of other materials. However, to make use of a carbon steel wok, it is a must to season it.

New carbon steel wok that is not factory coated or finished in any way should be seasoned to prevent rusting, as well as to make sure that the food will not stick to the surface in the process of cooking. After applying seasoning oil, carbon steel cookware should not be washed in household dishwashers.
Some uncoated carbon steel cookware has a black oxide finish. This coating looks quite impressive, but it is not a serious obstacle to corrosion. At the same time, carbon steel with a modern high-performance coating (as long as its integrity is not compromised) is widely used for the manufacture of heat-resistant cookware. Darker finishes absorb heat better in the oven. Therefore, these utensils can be used for cooking even at lower temperatures.

Best Oil for Seasoning Carbon Steel Woks

Cooking in a wok implies cooking under high temperatures. When you use oil, it is essential to take into account not only the nutrients it contains or the smell and taste but also the smoke point. The thing is that cooking with oil heated beyond its smoke point will, first of all, lead to an unpleasant taste and smell, as well as lead to more serious consequences, the emission of free radicals, which is in no way beneficial for the health.
So, it is logical for you to wonder what are the best oils for seasoning. One of the essential criteria of a good seasoning oil is that it should be deodorized regardless of the option you select. In this way, the oil will not influence the taste of the food you cook in a wok. Let us consider the seven most widely used options and find out if their properties make them good for seasoning.

1. Soybean oil (Smoke point - 453 ºF)

This oil is a champion in the list of similar plant products in terms of the content of biologically active substances. Moreover, it has the highest degree of assimilation by the body. With such a high smoke point, this oil is perfect for seasoning a carbon steel wok. You can be sure that anything you want to cook on your wok will be not only healthy but also delicious and safe.

2. Grapeseed oil (Smoke point - 420 ºF)

The oil does not have a pronounced odor, and its taste is rather light and unobtrusive. It is also worth noting a slightly sweetish aftertaste, but it does not spoil the cooked food at all, but rather complements it. This herbal ingredient does not overpower the main flavor of the dish, which is highly appreciated by many chefs. The smoke point makes it safe for wok seasoning.

3. Avocado oil (Smoke point - 519 ºF)

The light aroma and exquisite taste of avocado oil are appreciated in cooking all over the world. When heated, avocado oil does not have a burnt odor and does not lose its excellent taste. With such a high smoke point, have no worries to use it for seasoning a carbon steel wok.

4. Peanut oil (Smoke point - 449 ºF)

The benefits of peanut butter are due to the many nutrients it contains, such as vitamins E, B, A, and D, as well as the minerals iron, manganese, potassium, zinc, and selenium. Due to a high smoke point, this option is good for seasoning and cooking dishes by deep-frying on a wok.

5. Flaxseed oil (Smoke point - 224 ºF - 449 ºF)

As a vegetable alternative to fish oil in terms of unsaturated fatty acids, flaxseed is rightfully ranked first among all vegetable oils. As you might have guessed, it has quite a specific smell and taste, which is why not all the cooks consider not only seasoning a carbon steel pan with flaxseed oil but even using it at all.

The different values of the smoke point depend on the quality of the oil, and if it has been mixed with other ingredients. The cost is also higher than the previous options.

6. Vegetable oil (Smoke point - 399 ºF)

It is a neutral widely used oil, with a common smell and taste. The smoke point is quite low, so vegetable oil is not the best choice for seasoning, however, it is still widely used for this purpose. So, we recommend not using it for seasoning but to cook with it afterward to fry or sauté in high heat.

7. Canola oil (Smoke point - 399 ºF)

This oil is in some way similar to the previous option. It will not burden the smell and taste of the dish or salad it is added to. However, it is better not to use it for the seasoning of a carbon steel wok because of a low smoke point.

Wok Seasoning Oil: Options to Avoid

There are two oils that are better not to be used for seasoning of carbon steel woks. The first one is extra virgin olive oil. With the smoke point within the range of 228 - 323 ºF, it is a good option for dressing salads. However, seasoning a wok with olive oil is not a good option.

The second widely-used wok seasoning oil is coconut oil. The smoke point of 449 ºF makes it a good option. But it is necessary to consider its specific smell and taste that do not make it suitable for many cuisines. It is better to select one of the above oils for seasoning, while coconut oil can be utilized for moderate-heat cooking of prawns or other shellfish adding the tropical scent to these meals.

Seasoning a Carbon Steel Wok: Steps to Follow

So, after the selection of the best oil for wok and matching your preferences, it is time to proceed to the seasoning process itself. In general, the process is common for any type of oil you have chosen.

Before tempering the wok, thoroughly remove any shipping grease from the wok. Transport lubrication is necessary to prevent the appearance of rust during the transportation of woks and further presale storage. During the washing process, you can boil the water in the wok. After washing, the wok should be absolutely not greasy to the touch.
Before starting the seasoning of the wok, you can check the video prepared by Yosukata experts and posted on our site to get to know how to proceed correctly. Or you can proceed in an alternative way mentioned below. So, open as many windows in the room as possible, and close the door from this room to the rest of the house. Switch on the stove hood. Follow the below steps:

1.Clean wok, switch on maximum heat and wait until it is hot - the color change will evidence the heating. (The color should change to blue in the hottest places and black pearls on the border of heating). 2.Hold it so that the walls of the wok are exposed to the fire, letting them also heat. 3.After the maximum space of the surface has become a color close to blue: the pores of the steel have opened, pour seasoning oil into the wok so that it covers the bottom with a dense layer (100 grams). 4.Tilt the wok in each direction and in a circle to coat the wok with an even layer. 5.Remember to keep the fire on at maximum and do not move the wok far from the burner. 6.Put chopped green onions into a hot wok, and rub the oil into the walls of the wok with this onion using a spatula. 7.After the onion darkens (there is no need to wait for combustion), turn off the heat, and after a couple of minutes, place the wok underwater to cool it. The pores of the steel are closed together with the oil, which creates a natural coating. 8.After cooling down, put the wok back on high heat and drain the water. 9.Once the wok is dry, heat it up a little, add the oil again, and heat it until the first haze appears. 10.Turn off the gas and, using the paper towels squeezed with tongs or the grip, rub the oil over the entire surface of the wok. 11.After processing the front side, wipe off the backside with the remaining oil, this will protect it from corrosion.

That's it, the process is over. Let the wok cool completely. This is what a seasoned and buttered traditional Chinese carbon steel wok looks like. Do not forget: now it cannot be washed with active detergents! Only with warm water and a brush. The wok must always remain in the oil film.

Conclusion

The wok is a versatile utility that will improve the taste and flavor of your dishes considerably. But the wok itself is not going to create miracles. Every owner of the wok needs to:

understand the basic information for the selection of the oil for seasoning carbon steel woks; master the process of seasoning.

Properly seasoned woks will let you cook your favorite dishes of various cuisines without the necessity of dealing with stuck pieces of food and add the flavor and taste of the chosen oil to the meals. To maintain this quality of a carbon steel wok, you will need to re-season it. Therefore, there will be a possibility to test several oils recommended for seasoning, which will make it possible to select the option you will like most of all. Enjoy not only your meals but also cooking with a properly seasoned carbon steel wok!
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