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Ever wonder why your wok rust? It can be due to improper washing. Much like cast iron, Woks needs a seasoning for it to perform optimally. You cant just put it in a dishwasher. Nor cant you use harsh soap either. So how do you clean a Wok? That depends on how badly it needs cleaning.
Are you Suppose to Clean a Wok?
Yes, like a cast iron pan, you should clean it. While its not recommended to use harsh soap, you can still use light soap. A simple swipe is all thats needed. If there are stuck on crud, you can use more abrasive method. Salt and a paper towel might work.
Methods of Cleaning a Wok
There are a few ways of cleaning a wok, below are some of my favorite way.
Wok Brush (Best Way to Clean a Wok)
Next to any Chinese Chef, there will always be a tall bamboo brush. That bamboo brush is not for sweeping, but rather for cleaning a Wok. Its stiff bristle acts like a scrubber to clean out any crud. They often use it between/after frying. If you ever seen them work, all they do is rinse it with water and brush it quickly. This helps prevent cross contamination of food when cooking.
Salt and Paper
Paper not pepper, aluminum foil works. What you do is sprinkle salt and wad up a piece of paper. The salt will act as a abrasive to remove any stuck on crud. Using aluminum is better for more stubborn stuff.
Hot Pan and Water
One of the most effective way of cleaning a Wok is simply water. When the pan is hot, splash water onto it and it will lift the food. Just be aware that this can damage your pan. So use it sparingly.
Another way water works is by simply letting it soak. The longer you let it soak, the easier it is to clean.
Copper Coated Scourers
In those situation where the food is just too stubborn. These Scourer are coated in copper to help protect the pan. Just be aware, that this will damage your seasoning and you most likely have to reseason it. I would only use this as a last resort scenario. Interesting enough, it doesn’t stop home cooks everywhere from doing it daily.
Rust and Reseasoning
Eventually, you will get to a point where the Wok starts to rust. This can be due to over cleaning or you just let it soak in water. Thankfully, its pretty easy to clean. Just use sand paper, bar keeper friends or even the copper scourer and that should make short work of it.
Once the rust is gone, reseason the pan. You can do this by apply a thin coal of oil then heat. Once it starts smoking, let it cool and then repeat. It should build up a layer that will protect then wok.
How to Clean a Wok Thoughts
Cleaning a Wok is pretty easy. You just need to use the right method. My favorite is the Bamboo brush, its quick, effective and easy. However, other method like the hot pan and water works as well. Its just that it can shorten the life of the wok. In other cases, using salt and paper works. Copper Coated Scourer works as well. If push comes to shove, then just remove the rust and reseason it.