Do you clean you new wok with Chinese leeks?

elizabeth10029February 26, 2006

Yesterday I was privileged to be included in a home cooking lesson on stir frying which included how to clean and season new Wok Shop carbon steel woks. I'm sharing this because I am interested if anyone else does this. It was totally new to me.

We were instructed by the wonderful native Chinese teacher to do the following. From my notes:

To clean a new wok, take a handful of chicken fat ( we cut it off of Trader Joe's chicken thighs but pork fat is apparently ok too). Heat the wok over high heat (the highest heat on an ordinary home gas stove) and add the small pieces of fat. When the fat has begun to render into liquid, push around a handful of Chinese leeks (from the Chinese market) all over the surface of the pan. The motion is rather like using the usual bamboo brush. That removes the first layer of dirt from the wok manufacture. This takes four or five minutes. (I was amazed how much dirt/chemical residue came off.)

Then wash the wok. Use a wok brush (don't hold at the top but close to the bottom of the brush) and get all the debris out. Use a scotch brite as long as there is no soap on it. Do this for several minutes to get all the dirt off the surface.

Then fill the wok with water and bring to a boil. (Don't remember how long the water boiled--maybe 10 minutes--but at some point we turned it off and let benign neglect take over while we did prep.)

Then wash the wok as before with bamboo brush and scotch brite. Wipe with paper towels until there is very little dirt on the towel and the wok is dry.

Then heat oil in the wok and begin deep frying, stir frying or whatever, but no steaming which breaks down the seasoning.

That is as far as we got in learning how to season. I did get the impression that black is not a good color of a seasoned wok, but brownish/bronze is. There were some language barriers that left unclear the question of how much oil and how often to oil but Jon on another thread managed to read my mind and post an answer this morning before I had asked the question. I include his post because it completes the lesson. From Jon's response on the food frying post (starred emphasis added by me):

"Carbon steel woks are a lot like cast iron in that you shouldn't ever wash them with soap, which would destroy the seasoning. Just knock any sticking chunks loose with some sort of abrasive (a bamboo brush is traditional but I find scotchbrite works fine), rinse with water if you like, and wipe it clean and dry with a paper towel. *The oils used in cooking will continuously season the surface.*"

I have learned that there are many difference ways to season woks, but the cleaning with leeks was a new idea. Anyone else do this?

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In a word? no!! LOL!
I haven't had a new wok in so long....I don't remember what I do to a new wok!...But I clean an old one with water, a plastic scrubber and if something is stucl....a bit of salt on the scrubber. rinse and dry over the gas flame.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 6:21PM
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I just took some cookbooks out of the library, including one called "Breath of a Wok." It has tons of information about the history of woks, including the fact that the traditional way to season a wok was by rubbing it with Chinese chives. The author at first thought there was a scientific reason for this, like maybe the sulfur in the chives was sanitizing the woks, but then a chemist told her the amount of sulfur was too minute to be of value. It's just a tradition. (And what else would someone have used in ancient China - they didn't exactly have paper towels or plastic scrubbie pads.)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 8:15PM
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I also purchased Breath of a Wok and Yes I used the Chinese leek method.
Does anyone know of a good source for Wok tools? no one here seems to carry them anymore.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 12:33PM
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