Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seasoning Cast Iron Wok, Salt Pork Experiment(updated)


I was experimenting seasoning a new cast iron wok with cured salt pork. Wow, tons of fat. I wanted to see the difference in seasoning if any between animal fat and canola oil. I'll use this wok for my own use at home. I may also reseason a wok that an unnamed venue had put in a dishwasher! I nearly had a heart attack, it ripped off all my patina, it's not the same. It went down to bare metal, ouch.

NOTE ON CLEANING A CAST IRON WOK : Please do NOT put your wok in a dishwasher. The cleaner is way too strong and ruins all the wonderful patina you've been building UP! Just soak in a little hot water while you're eating and then it takes only 2 seconds to swish out with a green scrubber or sink brush. The more you use your cast iron wok, it becomes a NATURAL non-stick surface and requires less oil and less cleaning.

I don't use pork fat so my Jewish clients won't have to worry.

Saltpork

Seasoning a cast iron wok from China if not done correctly, can make you very sick, I've read many horror stories. But, it's also not that hard to do, just time consuming. I've changed my technique a little with the help from many youtube commenters! They sure don't scrimp at telling you their thoughts. Here's my husband's amusing video on Care and Feeding of your Wok, over 60,000 views!

I want folks to have FUN right away (yes, instant gratification in the western world.) Spending time 'seasoning' a wok is just another obstacle and chore to someone's success.

Lodge do sell their cast iron woks and pans already 'seasoned'. However, theirs are heavy (15 lbs.), I've had numerous folks complain they do not want to lift their wok/pan on a daily basis, it doesn't make cooking fun. Heavy does not mean better or function better. Folks who end up getting my cast iron wok love it. It's so light and make their cooking enjoyable instead of a weight lifting exercise!

Well, the result of seasoning with pork fat was not very satisfactory for me personally.

MY REASONS AND TIPS:

1. You have to wait for the hunk of fat to dissolve, it took a lot longer. I found it quite dangerous with splattering.

2. The pool of fat prevented the heat from "burning"(seasoning) the cast iron wok. You have to pour out the fat first.

3. Make sure you have a glass or plastic container BEFORE you start seasoning.

4. Wait for fat to cool PRIOR to pouring into a glass or plastic container to prevent cracking or melting the container!

5. Do NOT throw lard down the drain which can clog and make everything back up.

I still prefer just using vegetable oil to season. It's quick, cleaner and not so smoky.

It's such an important topic that my friend and top Asian food blogger, Bee Yinn Low of rasa malaysia asked me to write this section in her new cookbook: Easy Chinese Recipes: Family Favorites From Dim Sum to Kung Pao


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