The wok is one of the most versatile cooking vessels. It can be used for frying, steaming, deep frying and even smoking food. A well-seasoned wok will last a lifetime with proper care. However, if you don’t know how to clean your wok properly, it may not last long at all.
The woks are made of two most popular materials, cast iron and carbon steel. Both are completely different materials with some similarities but the method of washing both cast iron and carbon steel wok is completely different.
Here are some tips on how to clean your wok without harming its seasoning or damaging the metal itself.
How to clean a cast iron wok
Cast iron wok is known as one of the best wok and many chefs prefers it over carbon steel wok. The reason for its popularity is it tend to heat the food more evenly and we get more flavor from cooking in a cast iron wok. When it comes to cast iron wok, it is bit heavier and you have to give it a bit more attention to take care of.
Cast iron is porous material that needs to be seasoned before it gets used and we must have to be a bit more careful when cleaning a cast iron wok to avoid the chances of removing the seasoned layer or from damaging.
Before start cleaning a cast iron wok the point you need to know is not to remove all the oil but simply just remove the food and bacteria. The material is not made to be scrubbed with a cleaner.
1) Soak it in a hot water for a while
When you’re done cooking, the wok will have a layer of vegetable and oil on it. Remember, the oil is not a bad thing and you want to keep that layer there.
The first step is to simply take the wok and keep sink it in a hot water (not too much hot, that burn your skin).
The hot water soaking allows to soften small food particles or the food which has been stick on the surface of the wok. Keep the wok for 10 minutes in hot water and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
2- Wipe Your wok with a soft cloth
After 10 min when you put it out of water, you will see that the wok loosed the bacteria and food. The next step is to take a soft cloth and start rubbing down every part of your wok. The cast iron is a hard metal, but after rubbing for sometime it will begin to flake off and then oil and seasoning will come off it and make sure you have used hard cloth for rubbing.
Rinse your wok off with water then and make sure all the bits of food are completely removed from its surface and then wash it with water.
4- Wipe with a cloth once agin
Repeat the same process of rubbing it down with a soft rag once again. The purpose of wiping again once more is to make sure nothing was missed. Since we don’t use any detergent, we are totally relying on a physical force of the rag to remove the food the stick with it.
5- Final Rinse
Same as before run water again and make sure run water completely until water coming off the wok clear.
6- Dry off the wok
Now its time to dry you wok. For this purpose use soft towel. Gently pat your wok down with a soft towel. Try to dry it completely and make sure all the water is gone before you store a wok in somewhere.
7- Safety dry on the stove
The last step is optional and its up to you but we recommend you to follow this one also. The wok can become a rusty if you keep water on it. To avoid this, heat up a wok on medium heat for a while and when you become 100% that it become completely dry, cool it down and keep it wherever you want to.
How to Clean Carbon Steel Wok
Carbon is another most preferred and popular wok by far. This wok is more economical, lighter, durable, and last but not least easier to take care. There are so many cooks who don’t use any kind of wok other then carbon steel. The same goes for cast iron wok as well so which one is more famous and are popular? Well every cook get attached to their woks and both have their own strong opinions.
You may already know the fact that carbon steel wok also need to be seasoned before it gets use like cast iron. However, once they get properly seasoned and have been used few times, you will need to clean them.
1- Soak carbon steel wok
To start off, just fill your sink with hot water and soak your wok for five to ten minutes to loosen up any grime or food that may be sticking to the pan.
Like cast iron wok, the same goes for cast iron for not to take off the oily season layer by using hard utensils or detergents. However, when it comes to carbon steel, the cleaning is not a big issue because unlike cast iron, carbon steel is not a porous material and if you can easily re-season it after washing it with a little bit using a soap.
To start off, prepare a hot water and then soak your wok in it and keep it for 5 to 10 minutes to loosen up any food that stick with a wok while cooking.
2- Wipe it down with a nonmetallic scrubby or dish towel
Carbon steel woks are not as sensitive to scrubbing, since it is made of a smooth material. However, you have still need to take it easy and not scratch off the seasoning layer or damage the finishing. Take a non-metallic scrubby or dish towel and start scrub it all over. Make sure to get off any kind of food that stuck on it.
3- Rinse off the wok
While this process, if you have an extremely dirty wok, or it has burnt enough and seems it difficult, in that case you can use a small amount of soap that helps to clean it off but as far as i know, hot water will alone do it for you. Just keep it in your mind that if you use soap, you will need to re-season your wok.
The drying process for a carbon steel wok is almost the same as of a cast iron wok. You have to use a soft towel and pat it dry all over first, getting off any moisture. After you have patted it down, gently rub the wok all over with the towel until it is completely dry and shiny.
Once it is dry you should heat it up on the burner on medium heat for about ten minutes to makes sure any remaining germs or bacteria are completely gone. After this step is completed, if you had to use soap to clean your wok, now is the time to season it again before you put it back into storage.