Stainless steel and carbon steel woks can last for generations if they are well taken care of. If you have just bought one, you should learn different techniques for cleaning it, including using salt.
Though different types of woks need various cooking techniques, cleaning them is not very different. You should always clean the wok after every use to keep it in the best condition. Doing this also prepares it for your next cooking sessions. Cleaning a wok is not complicated, and it does not require a lot of equipment.
You can take roughly 15 minutes to clean it. If you use your wok often, you should always have a non-metallic scrubber in the kitchen for proper maintenance. We will share some of the techniques that you can use to clean your wok, including how to use salt. Enjoy!
Cleaning the wok when seasoning it for the first time
When you have just bought a new wok, you have to start cleaning it before seasoning it so that you can get rid of the factory oils it comes with as well as dust that may have accumulated during transportation. For you to give it a quick wash at this stage, you need a scrub sponge, mild soap and water. Choose a scrub sponge that comes with a sponge on one part and a scouring pad on the other side.
Before you start cleaning it, you should transfer it to the gas stove and wrap the handles with some aluminum foil so that they don’t burn. Set the burner to high heat so that it can heat the wok. Once this happens, the color of the wok starts turning to dark brown. You should also notice some smoke from the wok. This shows that the factory oils are gradually burning off. Use a towel to tilt the wok so that you can superheat different regions at a time. It will slowly start turning black then blue as the impurities continue burning off.
Ensure that you continue tilting the pan until all of the surfaces have a blue tint. Once this happens, you can reduce the heat entirely then pour in water into it. This allows the wok to start cooling off slowly. Do this carefully so that the hot water does not splash to your hands. When the wok is cool, you can move it to the sink area, and then lightly scrub it using the scrubbing pad and mild detergent. Rinse it with clean water thoroughly.
You can then wipe the excess water using a clean towel. Place it back to the burner for it to dry completely. Use medium-high heat at this point. Once it dries completely, you can now proceed with the seasoning.
Cleaning the wok with salt
While some people use woks for cooking frequently, others use it once in a long time. If you bought a wok a few months back and would like to use it after a long time, you should consider cleaning it using salt before cooking with it. Salt can refresh a wok that has not been used for a while. Start by washing it lightly to get rid of any dust or oil on the wok. You can then pour a cup of salt into the wok then place the pan on a gas stovetop. Set it over high heat so that the heat can reach the salt in the wok.
You then need to stir the salt continuously for about 20 minutes. Use a circular motion as you try to push the salt up and around the sides of your pan. After the period is over, you should then remove the wok from the stovetop and pour the salt into the sink. Do not forget to give the heated salt some time to cool off before discarding it. You can then wipe your wok clean as you use a paper towel or rag. Spread a layer of oil on the surface of your wok. It is now clean and ready to use. The layer of oil you apply on the surface of the wok can preserve its patina.
Eliminating hardened food or rust from your wok
Sometimes, you may end up burning food when trying to prepare a special meal on your wok. Some of the burned food may end up sticking on your wok, making it hard to remove. You should be careful with how you clean your wok if this happens. Start by soaking the wok in warm water for a few minutes. This can loosen up the food particles in the wok to simplify the cleaning process.
After soaking it for about 5 minutes, you can then scrub it gently using a cleaning pad or soft sponge. If it still has some stubborn food particles, you can use steel wool. Do this carefully since an abrasive sponge can get rid of the accumulated patina on the wok. If this happens, consider re-seasoning the wok so that you can restore the non-stick surface. Skipping this step can make cooking using the wok disappointing. You can also use this cleaning process when you have a wok that shows signs of rust. However, experts recommend that you choose a quality wok so that you don’t have to deal with such issues for long.
The key to properly cleaning a carbon steel wok is being gentle. If you are dealing with a new wok, you should use the first technique we discussed above. When you have not used a wok for long, you can clean it with salt since this refreshes it and removes any impurities on the pan. In case some of the food sticks on your wok, it is god to soak it before you scrub it with a soft sponge. After cleaning it, you should apply an oil coating on the surface so that it does not rust. You can then store it next to your kitchen items for future use.