How To Care For Cast Iron And Break In A New Wok

Cast Iron

Caring for Cast Iron

By Sarah Master, Chef at Red Stag Supperclub

If you’re starting new or have just bought a used one, this is the one and only time to give your cast iron pan a good soap and water scrubbing. Scouring or scrubbing too hard once you’ve established your seasoning will make it sticky again and you’ll just have to start over.

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Illustration by DWITT

Once you’ve cleaned your pan, place in a 300-degree oven until it is evenly heated the whole way through (about 15 minutes). Be sure to place foil or a sheet pan underneath it as it will drip.

Remove it from the oven and carefully rub it with canola oil. Some people swear by bacon grease or shortening, both acceptable fats, I’ve just never done it this way (although the thought of seasoning my next casty with bacon grease makes my mouth water).

Place it back in the oven and bake it again for about 1 hour, flipping it over halfway through. Let the pan cool in the oven and repeat a few times over the next few days to get a really nice surface going.

When you’ve finished cooking with your newly seasoned cast iron pan, rinse it out while it is still hot. This is very important! A little hot water goes a long way in removing sticky stuff from a hot pan. If your pan is still dirty, use a small amount of mild soap and a soft sponge to remove the rest. Don’t scrub too hard. If you’re still having trouble getting it clean, throw a little kosher salt into it and rub it with a towel. Discard the kosher salt, and wipe it down again.

Lastly, dry it completely after cleaning to prevent rust. The best way to do this is reheat the pan and rub it with a little more oil to replace the seasoning you may have taken off during cleaning.

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Breaking in a New Wok

By Eric Fung, Owner of United Noodles

Open all your kitchen windows.

Blast the wok with high heat, oiled up with a flavorless cooking oil, tilting the wok so the oil coats the sides. Let it smoke and cook for a few minutes. The wok will turn brown and black.

Let the oil cool, discard it, then rinse it with water. Repeat that once more.

After the second round, oil it again and cook meat on medium to medium-high heat (don’t overheat it). Choose a meat with a high fat content, like pork belly, and render out the fat.

After cooking, rinse with warm water, and don’t scrub with anything abrasive.

 

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