You've cleaned and seasoned your new carbon steel wok, and now you're ready to start cooking. Over time, a properly seasoned and well used wok develops a shiny black patina that helps prevent food from sticking and enhances the flavor of the food.
There's no short cut to achieving this – the more often a wok is used, the sooner it will develop its own patina. However, certain cooking methods and foods can facilitate the process, while others may wear away the new seasoning. Here are five tips on what to cook in your new wok:
Deep-Fry to Your Heart's Content:
Now is a good time to dig out that favorite recipe for Kung Pao Chicken. (For that matter, why not deep-fry a batch of fried chicken or even French fries?) New woks love to drink oil, and deep-frying can speed up the seasoning process.
Stir-fry, Stir-fry, Stir-fry!:
Stir-frying also helps the wok drink oil. But this isn't the time to try and cut back on fat and calories by using as little oil as possible. Over time, as the seasoning builds up, you'll find that the wok naturally needs less oil for stir-fries.
Avoid Boiling or Steaming:
Boiling or steaming can cook off the new coating. You may need to re-season the wok after using it to boil or steam food.
Avoid Highly Acidic Foods:
The acid in foods such as tomatoes can damage or even wreck the coating that you're working to develop.
Choose Sauces With Care:
For the same reason, it's best to steer clear of highly acidic sauces (such as those containing vinegar) for now.