Monday, May 14, 2007
How to season a black iron / carbon steel pan
I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much lately; I have indeed been cooking, but have been super-busy with work and uni and things like that.
Anyway.. I've just started a mini-culinary project. Nothing too exciting, unfortunately. I've recently bought a carbon steel pan (AKA black iron. I figured out after some long and painful searching on the internet that "black iron" and "carbon steel" are the same thing). I'm going to season the pan, and document the process on my blog. I've never seasoned a pan before (not even a wok; we have a stainless steel one at home), and I've heard that a properly seasoned pan is a joy to cook on, so I thought I'd give it a go.
I picked it up at a homeware store for a mere $15. It was covered in a non-toxic anti rusting oil, and paper. After bringing the shiny beauty home, I spent ages on the internet trying to figure out how to actually season the thing. Pretty much every website I found gave conflicting advice - some said to bake it in an oven, some said to heat it on the stove, some said to clean it with detergent, some said detergent would destroy the pan....
and so on.
After all of that, I figured that I'd just go back to my Asian roots, and season the pan like a wok. (Googling "How to Season a wok" proved much more productive than "How to season a black iron pan"). The point of seasoning, as far as I can tell, is to create layers of oil in the pan, which increase with each use, eventually forming a "shiny black patina" which is basically non-stick.
Based on my internet research (possibly inaccurate, but time will tell), here is how to season a pan.
How to Season a Black Iron / Carbon Steel Pan
1. Scrub the pan clean in warm soapy water, being careful to remove all the "anti-rust coating", and dry very thoroughly.
2. Coat all internal surfaces of the pan with vegetable oil, (I used a big wad of kitchen paper for ease), and pour a layer of oil to a depth of about half a centimetre in the bottom of the pan.
3. Place the pan over a medium heat and heat for about 10 minutes, until lightly smoking.
4. Let the pan cool down, pour out the oil, and wipe out the excess.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 twice more.
6. Your pan is now seasoned and ready for use. With repeated use, more layers will form in the pan, eventually turning black and becoming virtually non-stick.
7. There are various schools of thought on cleaning the pan - some say to simply wipe the pan out, or scrub gently with a nylon pan to remove any burnt-on food products. Some sources recommend using hot water and a light detergent; others say that simply heating water in the pan until it boils and then pouring it out is sufficient. I guess you should do what you feel comfortable with. It is also important never to leave the pan with any moisture in it, or it will rust. You can just place it on the heat until any water is evaporated, wipe a thin coating of oil on the pan, and the cleaning process is finished.
Here is my first attempt at seasoning... as you will see, the sides went a bit strange. I couldn't tell if that was supposed to happen, or if I just hadn't scrubbed the pan enough, and some anti-rust coating had remained.
See? Looks a bit dodgy, I think. So I started again, this time scrubbing really hard, and then re-seasoned it.
This time it looked much better, and most importantly, started smelling like a wok in a Chinese restaurant would.
Stay tuned for (hopefully) delicious adventures with fried foods!