Seasoning your first ever carbon steel wok or skillet can seem like an intimidating task, but in this guide we will walk you through the simplest way to getting your carbon steel cookware ready to use!
In Chinese we actually refer to this process as "开锅" (kai guo) and this roughly translate to "to open the wok". It involves 2 main parts: bluing and frying aromatics. We will not go into bluing in this guide because all Oxenforge cookware are already blued by our blacksmiths before they are sent to our customers.
These are the steps you need to take when you first unbox your Oxenforge wok/skillet:
STEP 1: WASH OFF THE OIL
Wash the wok/skillet with dishwashing soap, warm water, and the soft side of your sponge. This is to remove the layer of oil that was applied to protect the steel from rust during the shipment process. We use only natural vegetable oils for this, so this will come off quite easily with some dishwashing soap. There is no need to scrub so hard.
STEP 2: DRY ON THE STOVE
Put your wok/skillet on the stove and turn on the heat. Let the heat evaporate all of the leftover water droplets on the steel.
Do not overheat your wok/skillet in this step. As soon as the water droplets have all evaporated, turn the heat off.
If you are using an electric stove, you should dry your wok with a paper towel instead. Using the electric stove for this step could warp the steel of your wok.
STEP 3: WIPE A THIN LAYER OF OIL
Add a few drops of oil and spread it evenly around the wok/skillet with a paper towel.
STEP 4: STIR FRY GREEN ONIONS AND GINGER
Heat up your wok/skillet until you see very faint signs of smoke. Once you see the faintest bit of smoke, add in a generous amount of oil along with slices of ginger and green onions. Use a lot of oil for this step!
Constantly move these around the wok/skillet to distribute the heat evenly. This process helps remove any iron-like taste that new carbon steel cookware tends to give off. The ingredients also help distribute the heat evenly.
STEP 5: TOSS THE GREEN ONIONS AND GINGER
Once the green onions and ginger have turned dark brown / black, you can toss them in the bin.
STEP 6: RINSE THE WOK/SKILLET
Allow the wok/skillet to cool for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it under warm water.
After rinsing, put it back on the stove to dry it.
I did not use any scrubbing tool because nothing was stuck to the steel. If anything gets stuck, you can use a bamboo scrub or a sponge to get it off.
STEP 7: APPLY A THIN LAYER OF OIL
Once the wok/skillet is dry, put a few drops of oil and spread it evenly with a paper towel just like we did in step 3. The purpose of this step is to create a protective barrier from moisture. You will notice that the wok/skillet is slightly darker now. It will not be 100% even, and that is ok. You should not force a thick coat of seasoning on carbon steel because it will peel off. Your seasoning will become darker over time.
Congratulations! Your wok/skillet is now ready to use!
Always perform Step 6 and 7 after cooking, and this is enough to maintain your wok/skillet for many years to come!