How to season a cast-iron wok and make it non-stick

Season a cast-iron wok well and it becomes non-stick.
Season a cast-iron wok well and it becomes non-stick. Photo: Shutterstock

I have a cast-iron wok that used to be non-stick many moons ago. Is it possible to make it non-stick again? And how? S. Kong

We had a cast-iron wok we used while camping in the bush on a family farm. We then had kids and didn't go camping while the kids were toddlers. Farm dams, venomous snakes, large eagles – the usual stuff. When we returned after half a decade the wok was there but was rusty. I took to it with a wire brush until it was bare metal again. I threw it on the fire and slathered it with vegetable oil until there was enough smoke to excite the interest of the local volunteer firies. I kept brushing the oil up the sides of the wok using an old newspaper. While this was happening, the oil was creating a polymerised coating, a surface of hardened oil. With care, a cast-iron pan seasoned this way will remain non-stick as long as it is washed in hot water without detergent.

I have started a new job here in Australia where I have been told not to bring my "fragrant" home-cooked meals to eat in the open eating area. L. Kumari

'Brain Food' by Richard Cornish.
'Brain Food' by Richard Cornish. 

And that is exactly why I have worked from home for the past 15 years. A Spanish mate of mine, recently arrived in Sydney, opened his lunch in the office and cracked open a can of beer. There was much eye-rolling and many double takes from his co-workers until his boss tapped him on the shoulder and told him it wasn't the done thing to have a beer at work. My mate then described how the blokes in the office left for the pub on Friday afternoon to get completely hammered. Rules, no matter how confusing or frustrating they seem, are made for everyone's health, safety and, in this case, sensibilities. May I suggest you put up your hand next time there is a work multicultural day and offer to bring some of your best dishes. You never know. You might win the office manager over.

I bought some artisan feta cheese in a jar. When I took it out of the fridge the oil had gone thick and cloudy. Is it safe to eat? L. Evans

Most commercial feta sold in a glass jar is packed with vegetable oil or a blend of vegetable oil and olive oil, which does not go cloudy when cold. But the good stuff, extra virgin olive oil, coagulates when cold. It is perfectly natural. Do not be alarmed. Taste the oil. It should be good enough to cook with or even dress a salad.

Letters

Recently we talked about making lemonade scones and a reader wrote in complaining hers were pale and insipid. After some correspondence, we worked out she was using diet lemonade. Sugar caramelises around 170C, adding to the Maillard Reaction, which also results in the flour browning. Diet lemonade, having no sugar to caramelise, produces lighter-coloured scones. Interesting.

Send your vexing culinary conundrums to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au or tweet to @Realbrainfood.

Brain Food by Richard Cornish is out now from MUP (RRP $19.99, eBook $11.99).