How to Cook With a Wok
Find out how to choose the wok that's right for you, then learn how to season it to create optimally flavored dishes.
Choosing Your Wok
- Cast Iron: Most traditional, but heavy and requires seasoning.
- Carbon Steel: Lightweight option; can get regular, which needs to be seasoned, or non-stick to make cooking and cleanup easier
- Make sure the wok you choose feels comfortable to you
Seasoning Your Wok
Cast iron and carbon steel woks come coated with a film of oil; wash this off, then dry the wok by placing it over a high flame on the stove. Next, add a little oil (sesame oil is good because it burns quickly) and then use a kitchen towel (hold with a pair of tongs if you wish) to rub in the oil over the entire wok, giving it a darkened, blackened effect. Once your wok is seasoned, don't use a metal scour or iron wool on it, as you will take off the seasoning. If you are short of time, buy a nonstick wok made from carbon steel, which is just as good.
- Prepare all ingredients in advance so once you start cooking you can quickly throw ingredients in when needed.
- Use oil with a high smoking point, like peanut oil or vegetable oil. Avoid using sesame oil or olive oil to cook with.
- Preheat the wok until the oil is smoking, then keep an eye on the temperature so it's hot enough to sear food and cook quickly but not burning.
- Add food to the wok in this order: Aromatics (garlic, ginger, chiles, etc.), meat or seafood, then vegetables with a sprinkling of water for steam.