01 Sep2009

wok75

After rubbing the new wok with chinese chives, see Part I of the process here, the next step was to open up all the “pores” of the wok by heating it up and coating it with fat. Traditionally, pork lard was the fat of choice. And some chefs choose to slather on the lard onto a cool wok and slowly heat it up. I decided to render the lard and continuously paint the the insides of the wok with the hot pork fat. I know it sounds a little over the top, but the combination of the chive juices, the pork fat, serves to not only clean out the new wok, but coat it with oil and remove the “metal” taste.

wok78

I used roughly a kilo of pork skin and fat for each wok and it rendered roughly 1.5 cups of oil. Using a heat resistant silicone barbecue brush, I just kept “painting” the wok with the hot fresh pork fat. After about 15 minutes of rendering the pork fat, I added more fresh chives and let that fry up as well. Partially because I had so many, and hoping that the flavor and aroma would somehow permeate the pores of the woks as well.

wok71

Somehow, the visual of a kilo of slowly rendering fat gave me the slight hibbie-jibbies… I wonder if my own belly fat would yield the same result?! :)

wok73

If there wasn’t so much iron dust and grey matter, the fried pork skin with chives would have made an excellent snack!

wok74

And thank goodness we had set up the wok outdoors as the aromas were just totally intoxicating… After about 30 minutes of basting the wok, we turned off the heat, allowed the fat to cool. Added some water to the wok and brought it back up to a boil, then discarded the water and wiped the wok clean. It was now ready for use. And we definitely took it for an extensive test drive, as the subsequent wok-based dishes will confirm!

wok76

After a few maiden dishes, the bottoms of the woks looked like this. In this case, the fat was rendered slowly, leaving “burn” marks where the fat was pressed against the wok in the early stages of cooking.

wok77

For the second wok, the odd drip pattern was caused by dripping hot lard from the first wok onto the second one to help more fresh pork fat start cooking. The odd coloration is nothing to worry about, apparently. If we use the woks at least 5 times per week for the next year, maybe then and only after then will a nice dark brown/black patina develop on these woks. Oh, and while many professional cooks do season their woks in some variation of the steps I have described here and on the previous post, there are other methods as well. But enough about seasoning, let’s start cooking!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Hatari says:

    This is exciting! Good luck and I look forward to your subsequent posts. May you achieve wok hay.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 7:35 am

     
  2. tna says:

    Fascinating!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 7:37 am

     
  3. thelma says:

    i can’t wait for the dishes that will be cooked from this wok!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 7:55 am

     
  4. JR says:

    MM,

    Thanks for the info. Good luck with your wok project. I will try to follow your instructions to see if I can do it properly. I did try to season our wok before but failed miserably.

    I did see a lodge cast iron wok that is aleready pre-seasoned. I am still having reservations if I should buy it or not. Here is a link to their website:

    https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefront/product1_new.asp?menu=prologic&idProduct=3983

    It’s a bit pricey that is why I am having second thoughs.

    I do enjoy using my pre-seasoned lodge cast iron 15 inch skillet/pan and 3 qt combo fryer. It was cheaper to buy in WalMart rather than buying online.

    Thanks,
    JR

    Sep 1, 2009 | 7:58 am

     
  5. Marketman says:

    JR, I love lodge, but I wouldn’t get a wok from them. The cast iron wok I got is incredibly light, and the material quite thin. It heats up incredibly fast and it only cost some $10 from a HK shop. For other pots and pans, I do have lots of lodge and wouldn’t trade those for anything.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 8:24 am

     
  6. Chilli-Tamale says:

    Well done MM, good job man. I’m a bit lazzzzy…to do all that now…..I’ll hit the 2nd hand markets stalls for lots of picks….Other folks get rid of their WOKS when they move….
    even brand new ones you can find still in their packaging…I go for the well loved looking wok.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 8:24 am

     
  7. Jun b says:

    I have not bothered to buy one before because of the tedious way of seasoning it. After this I got to try it :) …. Thanks MM

    Sep 1, 2009 | 8:58 am

     
  8. Gerry says:

    Stir fried food in some Chinese restaurants have this somewhat smokey taste that comes from a well seasoned wok, although I don’t know if it’s the combination of the wok and the high pressure burners that does the trick. Is there a way to get one of this restaurants to sell their used woks? Although your attempts were great, I feel that the black woks they have in restaurants will yield the best flavor, and it propably takes some time of everyday use to achieve that effect.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 9:14 am

     
  9. betty q, says:

    Jun…like Chilli-Tamale, I usually hit garage sales and keep an eye out for the well cared for wok! It saves me time and it has that Chinese flavour well imbedded on that wok! You can’t beat that thingey! Keep an eye out too for restaurant closures. Usually they have notices on newspapaers and most often, their inventory is up for auction…

    Sep 1, 2009 | 9:34 am

     
  10. calorie-shmalorie says:

    MM, did the burner deliver the heat?

    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:52 am

     
  11. Mom-Friday says:

    can’t believe that much effort is put in to season a wok! is there any short-cut to this MM? i’ll wait for your dishes na lang :)

    Sep 1, 2009 | 12:38 pm

     
  12. Marketman says:

    Mom-Friday, I suppose you could wash the wok and go ahead and use it, coated with fat, but then you miss out on the tradition of seasoning it. :) calorie, yes, I was happy enough with the heat levels. Burned a few start-ups of garlic and onions even as I wasn’t fast enough. However, I was cooking small quantities, and I suspect the heat levels would be inadequate for larger dishes or volumes. Overall, I am very happy with this set-up for home use. Propane 80,000+ BTU heat would scare the s–t out of me I think. I want my eyebrowns and arm hairs intact, thank you. Gerry, yes, it will take a while to get the “black” insides to the wok. Haven’t found any sold in pristine used condition in this part of the planet…

    Sep 1, 2009 | 1:57 pm

     
  13. Bong says:

    Now that MM has new toys to play with… who gets to wok, I mean walk the dog!!!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 2:11 pm

     
  14. betty q, says:

    MM…watch out for restaurant closures! Keep an eye out for them at classifieds. Their inventory is often up for grabs at auctions.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 2:12 pm

     
  15. Gener says:

    Im hungry starving! that was a great demonstration indeed! i wonder if MM could do some “WOK with YAN” style of presentation? I wanted to see him in TV programs cooking or perhaps some reality shows with cooking subject…

    Sep 1, 2009 | 2:51 pm

     
  16. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Aw….its time to WOK the talk….or is it talk the WOK!!! hehehe

    Sep 1, 2009 | 5:34 pm

     
  17. Pecorino1 says:

    MM, the discolored spots are the beginnings of the ‘seasoning’ on your wok.

    There’s an easier way to season cast iron if your oven is big enough to accomodate your wok. You can do it overnight while you sleep. The result will be a uniformly black non-stick wok. However, you will probably have to reverse what you did in the last two posts and scrub off the bit of seasoning you had just created because ideally, you should start with a cast iron piece that’s been scrubbed down to the bare metal.

    Anyway, the procedure for the curious is this: Wipe a very thin even film of Crisco all over the inside of your wok. Turn it upside down in the middle of the oven, make sure to place aluminum foil underneath to catch any oil drips from the wok. Turn oven to 450F and let cook for 8 hours. Let the wok cool down inside the oven.

    That’s it.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 5:42 pm

     
  18. Thumbbook says:

    That’s a lot of work for a wok :) But Im glad you shared this, because Ive never thought of seasoning my new pans before.Really cool.Now I know why my favorite pancitan in Marikina takes such good care of their ginormous wok.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 9:20 pm

     
  19. Vicky Go says:

    Some years back, my mom & I took cooking lessons at Monclair High Adult Ed. We lucked out because the teacher was Eileen Yin Fei Lo (one of her books on Dim Sum is a classic). The first thing she said was NOT to even try using a wok to cook Chinese dishes in USA homes w standard gas cook tops. She said that even with the adapter, the heat will never uniformly heat the wok surface because in Chinese kitchens or restos, the cooking units are big enough that the wok sits deep in it and more than 80% of the wok’s outer surface is completely exposed to the heat! She said to just stick to properly seasoned cast iron pans or the newer non-toxic nos-stick pans or heavy enamel or stainless steel pans w copper clad bottoms. As for steamers for dim-sum – she said it’s best to use the bamboo steamers but metal tiered ones are OK to use, too.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 10:06 pm

     
  20. Lee says:

    will the resulting chicharon adhere to a magnet?

    Sep 3, 2009 | 2:29 pm

     
  21. Marketman says:

    Lee, hahaha, it probably would, there was a LOT of iron in the first frying… more than the average recommended daily allowance.

    Sep 3, 2009 | 3:02 pm

     
  22. Teresa says:

    Hi MM. I am defintely doing this wok seasoning activity come the weekend. I sucessfully brought back 2 woks after hunting them down in the Causeway bay market area. Please let me know how to clean the wok after using it to cook.

    Sep 9, 2009 | 6:10 pm

     
  23. joyce says:

    ever since i read your wok posts, been on the hunt for an iron wok. finally tracked a hand-hammered flat bottom cast iron wok being sold in central china. the instructions for seasoning are slightly different from yours in that it says to rub the inside with salt and tea leaves prior to rendering fat. the smell of fat frying like that is something else ;P had to open all the windows of the flat to let the smell out. can’t wait to use it for cooking.

    Oct 8, 2009 | 7:21 pm

     
 

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