My poor old wok had seen better days. The bottom had developed a dip, and portions have "peeling", and the poor fellow was pretty much ready to be retired. I think alot of the damage was due to a poor job of seasoning and care, on my part. When I got the wok as a gift a dozen or so years ago, I had no idea of what wok care, or seasoning consisted of. I had decided to get a new wok last year, but hadn't really made any effort to purchase one. Then I read a post on Barbara's blog; Tigers and Strawberries, that was a post on Asian Kitchen Equipment Essentials. In that post she mentions that The Wok Shop in San Francisco does Internet and mail order. The Wok Shop has always been one of my favorite places to visit, when in San Francisco, and I've bought a few knives, and other items. But I've always hesitated on purchasing a wok, and putting it in my luggage. But now, here was my chance. So I ended up ordering 2 woks from The Wok Shop. I placed my order on Tuesday, and by Saturday my woks had arrived!
I purchased a 14 inch Carbon Steel Wok($16.95), with a rounded bottom, and a 14 inch Cast Iron Wok ($14.95) imported from China. I decided to start with the Carbon Steel Wok. Grace Young's excellent book The Breath of a Wok, has several wok seasoning methods. One of the methods included in the book is Tane Chan's oven method. Tane Chan also happens to be the owner of the The Wok Shop, and sent me email wok seasoning instructions along with my order confirmation. So I decided to use that method.
"The wok is carbon steel and has to be seasoned to prevent it from rusting. The seasoning process is relatively easy to do. Just wash and dry your wok thoroughly. Coat lightly, interior and exterior with cooking oil. Bake in hot oven, 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Place in oven upside down. Remove from oven, let cool to touch and scour wok with an abrasive pad.
Scour the "seasoning" or patina away...like you want the wok back to its original finish. Wash, dry, coat and bake again...same process. Do this 4 times. After the 4th baking, you will not be able to scour the seasoning away...and that is the result you want."
The Wok had achieved a dark, golden, lacquer like finish. I don't quite know if it's perfect or not, but it seems to have worked. After cooling, I did the typical "pungent" post seasoning cooking. Using about 1 tablespoon of oil, I stir fried ginger and green onions until somewhat charred, making sure to "hit" all of the cooking surface. I cleaned my wok using the basic instructions from The Breath of the Wok. After this session, the wok had started to blacken.
Looks like I'm on my way....... Next we'll see how the wok holds up to the 50,000 BTU Big Kahuna.
Now the shipping for my woks had come to $13, almost the price of a wok. But I didn't mind, since I expect to have these woks for a long time. But I guess The Wok Shop felt bad about this, and included a few items with my woks.
I thought the back scratcher was a nice touch, the Missus was immediately drawn to it. A skimmer was also included, and I also received an email telling me that The Wok Shop was including the skimmer. The last sentence of that paragraph cracked me up:
"This skimmer is durable and will last a long, long, time. Dishwasher safe and boilable! (fyi...great for cat litter too!)"
I'm hoping they aren't expecting the skimmer to do "double-duty" after doing the cat litter thing......
The Wok Shop, fast service, they sound like good people, and they have a sense of humor too!