How To Season A Wok on a gas stovetop using high heat, high smoking point…
Seasoning A New Wok Using An Outdoor Wok Burner is the way to go for restaurant quality stir fries and reasons why I chose this wok burner.
In Malaysia, many families living in single family homes have an outdoor kitchen in the backyard. This is where the “real” cooking actually takes place. The indoor kitchen is for light cooking and for rainy days when it is not possible to cook outside. Since the weather is tropical year round, cooking outdoors makes sense. Clean up is so much easier and the indoor kitchen remains more or less grime free.
When we moved to the United States, the thing that I missed most about food preparation was working in an outdoor kitchen. Apart from summer grilling in the backyard, most of the cooking is done indoors and this is actually not ideal for high heat wok cooking.
The homes here are built with insulation for winter and are very air tight. Stir frying at high heat causes the food aroma to remain and circulate in the house for hours before it settles down as grime on countertops and furniture. As such, I have always wanted some kind of outdoor stove in the backyard so that I can stir fry until my heart’s content.
The Eastman 22 inch Carbon Steel Wok Kit
I finally searched the internet for an outdoor burner. After reading through many reviews, I decided on this Eastman 22 inch Carbon Steel Wok Kit with Big Kahuna Burner. Even though it was the most expensive option of all the ones I had shortlisted, this burner looked very sturdy and safe with a 65,000 BTU (British Thermal Unit) burner which in my opinion is more than sufficient for home use. You can check out the other ones that I had shortlisted below.
This kit came came complete with stainless steel spatula, ladle, and a thermometer for deep frying. I really like the design of the sturdy legs that can be adjusted from 18 to 26 inches high. They stand firmly on the cement floor and did not wobble at all, just what I had hoped for.
Other Wok Burners I Considered For Seasoning A New Wok
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The Propane Gas Regulator and Air Shutter
The propane gas regulator attached to a hose was quite easy to install. The regulator control valve controls the flame intensity and acts as an on/off switch when operating the burner. There is also an air shutter close to the burner to adjust the flame. What is lacking is an ignition. Unfortunately, they did not provide either a battery powered electronic ignition or even a flint ignition like most other portable gas stoves. You need to use a stick lighter to light the burner.
The Burner Body and Reversible Grate
The burner body housing the revolution burner casting is adequate for most days. It could be deeper or more enclosed for windy days to protect the flame from strong winds.
The reversible grate has 4 tabs that fit into 4 holes on the burner body. The curved side is for woks up to 22 inches in diameter. The flat side is for standard cooking vessels like pots and skillets. This grate makes the burner very versatile for different cooking vessels.
I want to point out that the grate did flake after the first day of use. Not sure if there is a way to prevent that from happening because of the high heat. My hope is that it holds up after repeated use.
Seasoning This 22 inch Wok
This 22 inch wok may appear a little big at first but it is actually a good size. After a few stir fries, I really enjoy this deep wok with plenty of room for stirring food. It is also pretty sturdy considering its size.
I seasoned this wok the usual way by first scrubbing it all over with a wire mesh scourer and some detergent. I had to use the large sink in my laundry room. Even so, it can barely accommodate this huge wok. It was a bit of a struggle but I managed to get it cleaned.
Then, I burned the wok outside on the wok burner set up on our backyard patio. Unfortunately, it was a windy day but I decided to go ahead anyway. It took me 37 minutes to burn and change the entire wok to a steel blue color. The winds probably made it a little longer than it should be. After allowing the wok to cool, I simply rub oil all over the wok and allow it to smoke on the burner. After a couple of minutes, I turned off the burner and allow the wok to cool. I repeated this oiling, smoking, and cooling procedure 2 more times to give the wok a good initial seasoning. After these steps, the wok was ready for use.
Restaurant Quality Stir Fries
Even though the sun has set and the winds were still blowing, I was excited to give the wok and burner a try. I prepped everything beforehand as I knew it would go fast with such a powerful burner.
My first stir fry was Black Pepper Chicken and that took only 5 minutes to cook despite the winds interfering with the flame. The second dish, Eggplant and Pepper Stir Fry took a little longer as the winds got stronger. This was when I really wish the burner had a more protective fire guard around the burner/flame. That said, both dishes turned out really well and we enjoyed our dinner that evening.
The chicken and vegetables were juicy because the high heat seared the outside but kept the moisture in the food. There was “wok hei” (breath of wok) flavor in the stir fries like those found at the Chinese restaurants. I was thrilled and so was the family! I used the wok and burner daily for the next 3 days until the weather turned cold and snow arrived again in April! Hopefully, my apple blossoms will survive this year. Sadly, it all died last year. You can read about it here.
Seasoning Carbon Steel Pans Using A Wok Burner
If you enjoy using carbon steel pans, a wok burner is a worth while investment. The burner makes the seasoning go so much faster and better with its high BTU burner. I took the opportunity to re-season my little use and rusted paella pan and a new deep one that I chance upon several days ago which I could not pass up.
This deep paella pan is like a flat bottom wok, at 13 inches in diameter. What I really like about these Spanish pans are the rolled edge (not sharp) on the top. The rolled edge also makes the pan very rigid. If you can, get the professional grade ones with the black handles (at least it is for this brand). The carbon steel is thicker and much more rigid with no warping. The ones with the red handles are much thinner and the one I have does warp a little when heated.
Similar Paella Pans Used in Seasoning A New Wok
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So far, these are the dishes (my sons and I) have already cooked in this deep paella pan – Pork with Spicy Bean Sauce, Fried Okra, Seafood Paella, and Pork Curry. It really is a great carbon steel pan.
All in all, I do enjoy using this wok and burner. Sure, there could be improvements but so far I am happy with it. I have already recorded two stir fry noodle videos using this wok and burner which should be coming out soon…
- 1 wire mesh scourer
- 1 outdoor wok burner
- 1 pair heavy duty gloves
- 1 unit carbon steel wok
- Some dish washing detergent
- 1 piece kitchen towel
- Several sheets paper towel
- 1 to 2 tbsp canola / peanut / grapeseed / sunflower / flaxseed oil
- Scrub the inside of the wok thoroughly with a wire mesh scourer and some detergent.
- Then, give it a good rinse.
- Do the same for the underside of the wok.
- Wipe the wok dry with a towel.
- Go outside and put on heavy duty gloves. Light your outdoor wok burner.
- Move the wok slowly over the flame.
- The wok will start to change to a steel blue color. It will take approximately 35 to 40 minutes for the entire wok to change to this color.
- Turn off the burner and allow the wok to cool.
- Wipe a very thin layer of oil over the entire surface of the wok with paper towels. You can also wipe the underside of the wok, if desired.
- Light up the burner and allow the wok to start smoking.
- Turn off the burner to allow the wok to cool.
- Repeat this oiling, smoking, and cooling procedure 2 more times to give the wok a good initial seasoning.
- The wok is now ready for use.