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Old 04-17-2005, 02:38 PM   #1
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Carbon Steel Woks

Hello everyone, I have a few questions about carbon steel woks that I hope you all can answer.

After purchasing the wok, I used canola oil to season it and cooked with it often to develop the patina. However, it doesn't seem to be very strong; many of the vegetable stir fries I've done end up with a pool of blackened water at the bottom of the dish. Naturally, I would like to fix this so that the food actually looks good instead of dirty. My dad recommended that I throw out the wok and buy a stainless steel, but I've heard that stainless steel isn't good for stir frying. Should I buy a new wok? If not, how can I get rid of the black staining of the food and is this residue dangerous?

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Old 04-17-2005, 02:57 PM   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aster
Hello everyone, I have a few questions about carbon steel woks that I hope you all can answer.

After purchasing the wok, I used canola oil to season it and cooked with it often to develop the patina. However, it doesn't seem to be very strong; many of the vegetable stir fries I've done end up with a pool of blackened water at th ebottom of the dish. Naturally, I would like to fix this so that the food actually looks good instead of dirty. My dad recommended that I throw out the wok and buy a stainless steel, but I've heard that stainless steel isn't good for stir frying. Should I buy a new wok? If not, how can I get rid of the black staining of the food and is this residue dangerous?
I do not use a wok, but I do use carbon steel and stainless steel skillets.

I use lard or shortening to season my skillets. I think canola oil or oils in general are too light.

The black staining is not dangerous in any way, just unsightly. At worst, you are getting additional iron in your diet [which is not all bad].
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Old 04-17-2005, 08:18 PM   #3
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I've owned a couple of carbon-steel woks and never had that problem. My best guess is that either your wok isn't seasoned properly or your cooking temperature is too low - or it really sounds like a combination of both.

Resason your wok. On the stovetop, just put it on high heat for about 20-30 minutes and let it get really smoking hot and burn everything off (or if it doesn't have wood handles you can run it thru a "self cleaning" cycle in the oven). Then let it cool, scrub with an SOS pad (or steel wool and soap), dry immediately and coat it inside and out with a thin layer of Crisco - then put in the oven and bake at 350-F for an hour ... allow to cool, coat with Crisco again, bake again ... and repeat one more time.

Carbon-steel which is not seasoned, and not heated to the high wok cooking temperatures, will cause food to turn black. If you're getting "black water" in the bottom of the wok ... you're definately not using high enough heat or you're overcrowding the wok. You're "steaming" and not stir-frying.
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Old 04-17-2005, 10:04 PM   #4
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Michael's got it down pat. REaseason after scouring out the old. Season with several layers of shortening, each applied after the first is done. This may be time-consuming at first, but will result in a cooking vessel that is durable, easy to clean, and gives great cooking results.

And, again as Michael pointed out, the wok is designed to cook at very high temperatures, though I have succesfully used my big Atlas, flat-bottomed carbon-steel wok to make everything from omeletes, to deep-fried egg rolls, to chicken chow mein. I've even steamed bean sprouts in it. It never gives me any black residue. And that black residue is merely carbon from the fat, like charcoal. It won't hurt you, but isn't pretty.

In summary, I'm affirming what Michael said in his post.

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