The Tasty Way To Season Your New Wok

Woks can be intimidating. With their round bottoms and tall sides, they aren't shaped like a normal frying pan. But if you love stir fry, don't let that stop you from learning how to use one. "Wok Therapist" Grace Young told Food & Wine that in order to get that uniformed sear that is the hallmark of using a wok, "The goal is to continually toss bite-size ingredients in a small amount of oil in a wok over high heat so that each morsel is constantly exposed to the hot wok." But stir fry isn't the only food you can cook in your wok.

According to Consumer Reports, woks are quite versatile and can be used to do everything from braising to steaming to deep frying. And one Serious Eats writer said the only pan used with similar frequency as the wok in their home was a cast iron pan. This makes a lot of sense when you consider both pans need to be seasoned. Webrestaurant Store explains that woks are often made from cast iron and carbon steel, both of which are porous metals and need to be seasoned if you want to thwart their common enemy, AKA rust. 

So, what's a tasty way to season your wok?

Use popcorn

Grace Young told Food & Wine one of the tastiest and quickest ways to season a new wok is to pop popcorn in it. Young says that because of the combination of oil and high heat required to get those popcorn kernels popping, the end result is a glazed shine that indicates your wok has been adequately seasoned. And Young is not alone in her recommendation for using popcorn to season a wok. 

Lisa McManus shares a video demonstration of how to pop popcorn in a wok with America's Test Kitchen on YouTube, noting that the first thing she suggests doing is covering your wok lid with foil to avoid a messy clean-up. She tests the wok with a little water to ensure it is hot enough before pouring in her oil and then adds a couple of kernels of popcorn. Once those pop, McManus knows the wok is hot enough and dumps the remaining popcorn kernels into the pan. 

Because of the steady heat, the whole process is incredibly quick with every single kernel turning into beautiful fluffy pieces of popcorn. McManus notes that seasoning of the wok is a nice byproduct of using your work for this task and makes the wok "happy."