Seasoning A New Wok Pan

As one of my Mother’s Day presents this year, I was given a wok! I LOVE IT! In fact, I had been looking at buying a wok for a while now as I cook so many Asian dishes. Actually, I receive an electric wok as wedding present 19 years ago, but sold it when we moved abroad. I have a tiny one from Ikea, but nothing quite like an authentic one over a gas stove!

Here is a photo my 11 year old took of me comparing two different ones at Amazing Oriental my favorite shop here in the Netherlands.

If you know anything about woks or even perhaps nothing – before you use it, you have to first season it! This way the food does’t stick to it and cleans away the chemicals on it. The wok came with instructions in Dutch of how to season it, but I of course, I wanted to watch actual videos too so I knew I was doing it correctly. The directions from the paper are not the same at all as the directions I found on the web. There are different ways of doing it.

Here are the directions from the paper: (translated)
Iron wok instructions. Before using a new wok, you must burn off the protective layer of the wok.  Put the wok on a low heat and let the wok burn black for about 15 minutes.  (Or on high heat in about 5 minutes).  Then you should wash the wok.  Return the wok to the heat to dry.  After drying, lubricate the inside completely with oil.  Before stir-frying, heat the wok before adding the oil.  The wok should be hotter than the oil so that the food doesn’t stick.  Avoid using detergent for cleaning.  Clean the wok with hot water and a washing-up brush.  Stuck food residues soak off first.  After cleaning, put the wok away dry (place it on the fire for a while) and if necessary rub with a little oil on a dry wok.  After a few months of use, the wok will become dirty from soot deposits.  You can remove the soot deposits by heating the wok around the edges and sprinkling some salt on the inside.  Scrub clean, rinse, dry on fire and grease with oil.

Here is the video which I thought was the best and with over 1 million views – so others did too! As mentioned above, there are other methods like using salt, putting into the oven and even using food – but those were not the methods I chose to try.

WHY SEASON A WOK?

Many cooks prefer using carbon steel because of its nonstick surface. However, it is important to note that carbon steel woks are NOT naturally non-stick. You need to season the wok first. Every time you use your wok, the patina will become more developed so the pan’s performance will improve. The non-stick properties will increase and food will release quicker and easier from the pan. Cleaning will become easier too, as food particles are less likely to stick. With the proper care, your wok will last you for many years to come.

What You’ll Need for Seasoning a Wok

  • hot water
  • dish soap
  • metal scrubber or scouring pad
  • paper towels
  • peanut oil or any other high-heat oil – I used grape seed oil. Avoid unrefined oils with low smoking points like olive oil & sesame oil.

Scrub Off the Factory Oil

Carbon steel woks are coated with a layer of factory oil to keep them from rusting before they are sold / used. It is crucial that you scrub off this layer of factory oil (front BOTH sides) before you use the wok for cooking. You don’t want the factory oil in your food!

For the initial scrubbing, you’ll need dish soap and a metal scrubber or scouring pad. You only use soap and abrasive scrubbers when you are prepping the wok for seasoning. Once it is done, you DO NOT use them for regular cleaning and maintenance. Otherwise, you will scrub off the patina and ruin the non-stick surface of the wok!

Spend a good 10-15 minutes on the scrubbing. Add some dish soap to your wok and use a scrubber to scrub the inside and outside of the wok thoroughly. Rinse the wok with water. Add dish soap to the wok again and repeat the scrubbing and rinsing two more times. As you rinse the wok, if you notice that your fingers are picking up black stains from touching the wok, it means you haven’t quite gotten rid of the factory oil yet.

After several rounds of scrubbing and rinsing, rub the inside and outside of the wok with paper towels. The paper towels are very good at picking up any leftover factory oil residue from the wok. If the paper towel looks black after rubbing the wok, scrub the wok with soap, rinse, and wipe with paper towels again. Eventually, you’ll get a clean wipe with the paper towel, and that’s when you know you’ve scrubbed off the factory oil sufficiently.

DRY THE WOK

Now it’s time to dry the wok. You don’t have to waste paper towels – as the water will evaporate quickly when you set the wok onto the heat. You’ll notice it starts to darken a bit. You don’t have to do this for too long only to dry it. Then let it cool a bit before you start to add the oil.

SEASON THE WOK

In this step, the goal is to use heat to open up the pores of the wok so that they can absorb oil to prevent rusting and start developing a nonstick surface. You will be heating oil for quite some time, so turn on your exhaust fan to the highest setting. Open your windows if your kitchen needs more ventilation.

Using a paper towel rub the oil evenly on the inside and outside of the pan. Put the pan on medium heat. You’ll see it start to change color rather quickly. Depending on the type of wok you have , it may even turn blue. You’ll have to turn it a bit to ensure that the sides change too. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat. Let the wok cool for a few minutes. When a bit cooler it is time to wash again.. but remember NO SOAP!

CLEAN THE WOK – A SECOND TIME

After the wok is cooled, wash again in hot water. Return to heat again for a few minutes and your wok is ready to use. There will be grease and a dark layer of patina. Use a bristled brush or soft sponge to gently clean the wok. Do not use dish soap here. Rinse the wok and place it on the stove to dry. This is when I used it for our dinner but if you don’t want to use it now, proceed to the final step before putting it away.

Dry Wok and Seal with Layer of Oil

Heat the wok over high heat again. Once all the water evaporates, turn off the heat. Carefully rub a thin layer of oil onto the wok. Pour about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil into the wok and rub the oil throughout the wok with several layers of paper towels. Be careful because the wok is still very hot at this point. You can use a spatula to help move the paper towel around too.

You don’t want to reintroduce moisture back into the wok. Otherwise, the wok can rust while it’s stored.

GENERAL CARE FOR YOUR WOK

After each time you use the wok, gently clean it with a brush or soft sponge.

If there are stubborn bits of food stuck to the bottom of your wok, fill your wok with about 4 to 5 cups of water. Bring the water to boil and then drain it. The hot water should help loosen the food and will be much easier to release with a brush or sponge. After you clean the wok, dry it over high heat and rub a bit of oil on the inside.

If your wok ever rusts, scrub the rust off with a scouring pad. Rinse and re-season the wok as if it were brand new.

Truthfully, I know it doesn’t look correct but it is… again, over time a layer of patina will build up and will be more nonstick. Will update this blog post after some months to show the wok…

So I’m super psyched to have a wok now and even made two recipes tonight. I’ll be on the hunt for more great recipes! Just need to get some wok tools like a long spatula and I’m sorted!

Do you have a wok? Did you season it this way or a different way all together?

Flessenlikker – A Typical Dutch Item & A Perfect Gift!

Typical Dutch Things

Often during the holiday season, I hear Internationals asking what are some “Typical Dutch Things” which they could bring/send home to their families as gifts. Of course shipping is very expensive and suitcase space is limited so items tend to me small and light weight. So I’m not talking things like bicycles!  Usual replies include drop licorices, bathroom birthday calendars, stroopwaffels, hagelslag, clog slippers, speculaas, Wilhelmina Peppermints and cheese are the most popular items but another one that gets a LOT of suggestions is the “Flessenlikker”

The flessenlikker also called flessenschraper (roughly translated to “bottle- licker“) is an ingenious, yet very simple, kitchen tool that I only just bought after living here in the Netherlands for nearly 3 years!   I knew about it but never actually got around to getting one until last week to be put into the Sint grab game.  

How does it work?  

Just as its name implies, it is used to scrape foods from insides of jars and pots – think peanut butter, Nutella, apple sauce, jams, mustard and of course MAYONNAISE – remember the Dutch LOVE their mayonnaise! 🙂 Without it, bits of mayonnaise or other sauces or condiments stuck to their jars or bottles inevitably end up being rinsed down the drain or thrown into the recycling bin – WASTED!  The flessenlikker’s design allows it to get at food that a flat knife or spoon cannot remove.  

Here is a funny video of Internationals being shown one – and they have to try and guess what the item is.

With this much thrift and cleanliness, it can only be a Dutch invention!

Actually – the tool was created in Norway, it never quite took off there.   It is cited as a quintessentially Dutch tool, as well as, an example of “Dutch thrift”.   In the Netherlands, it was first primarily for vla, a thin, custard-like dessert. Back in the early 1900s, it was sold in glass bottles. And when you got to the bottom of the bottle, you wanted every last drop. 

Is the flessenlikker still so popular?

Yes and no.  Nowadays not every Dutch person owns one. But it used to be in every household. Most people would still recognise it, but you won’t find it everywhere.  I actually had one Dutch person say to me they didn’t know what it was….and two say they didn’t have one at home. Wonder if they’ll get one now?

So when you’re looking for a “Typical Dutch Thing” to give as a gift – consider adding a flessenlikker to it.  I’m sure your family & friends would get a kick out of this invention.  HEMA has them for only €2!   On my next trip back home, I’m bringing some with me! 🙂

So far, I’ve used my flessenslikker only once for peanut butter – but I am certain my €2 was well-spent. Next time, I’ll enlist the kids to help me scrape. And of course, if I end up with something else unique and typically Dutch, I’ll share it. For the record, we don’t own a bathroom calendar – only because I’ve yet to find one that I really like, but I do want one.

Tell me, have you heard of the flessenlikker? Have one or want one now that you’ve seen this post?

Product Review: Stainless Insulated Bottles – Chilly Bottle & Dopper Insulated Blazing Black

Thankfully there has been a huge shift away from single-use plastic but we still need help.    Today San Francisco airport banned single-use water bottles!  The city of San Francisco banned the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owned property back in 2014, but allowed delays and granted certain exemptions.  The new rule comes into effect on 20 August, and is part of a five-year plan to lower landfill waste, net carbon emissions and net energy use to zero.  Filtered water is provided for free at 100 “hydration stations,” where flyers can top up reusable bottles.

The bottled water market globally is rapidly growing with approximate 600 million households consuming bottled water in 2018. That’s more than 100 billion gallons (391 Billion litres) of water per year or 1 million bottles per minute

This statistic displays the annual consumption of plastic bottles in the Netherlands as of 2017, by type of bottle. Combined, around 1.4 billion plastic bottles per year are consumed in the Netherlands, with 53 percent being small bottles. On average, 80 plastic bottles are consumed per person per year in the Netherlands.

 In the Netherlands and in our community, there are about six pubic water refill stations right here in the city centre.  There is also a larger push for some shops and restaurants to allow the public to use their taps to refill their water bottles if they have this openbare drinkwatertappunten sticker on their window.

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FREE DRINKING WATER TAPS IN DEN BOSCH

In Den Bosch Center I know of six main free public tabs at the Train station, Stads Park, Arena, Markt, Parade and Hinthamereinde and then at these private locations:

  • SwapFiets
  • The Green Bar
  • Art Den Bosch
  • Proeflokaal ‘T Paultje
  • Ricky’s Barber & Shop
  • Bossche Brouwers

FREE DRINKING WATER TAPS IN THE NETHERLANDS

I just found another website which shows even more FREE WATER TAPS all over the Netherlands.   So as long as you bring your bottle in your bag, you have no reason to need to buy a plastic bottle of water.

On the flip side it’s often difficult to get a restaurant to give you kranwater (water from the tap) in a pitcher or by the glass at the table.  In my recent experience, I learned that many American’s living here in the Netherlands find this absurd and complain about it, but the restaurants don’t want to give up the revenue they are making on you buying the expensive bottled water.    I will add that we hardly ever ask for tap water – only if it’s the end of our meal and the kids are thirsty and we ask for a single glass of water for the kids – the waitresses tend to offer it.

GLASS BOTTLE – MY PAST EXPERIENCE

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I personally prefer to drink of out a glass – so when I was back in the US last year I bought myself a Lifefactory Glass Bottle with the plastic outside.   It was heavy, it had loads of condensation on the outside, but I liked the glass part. Glass doesn’t keep water quite as cool for quite as long as stainless steel either.  Sadly, I dropped it on the sidewalk and the entire bottle SHATTERED!!   Gutted as I spent $25 on it and loved it.  And here I was warning the kids about being careful with my bottle – and the adult dropped the bottle.

OUR KIDS USE WATER BOTTLES DAILY AT SCHOOL

Last year, our kids had the BPA free, plastic Dopper water bottles for school – but by the time lunch rolled around their previously cold drinks were lukewarm and condensation was all over the outside of their bottles so that meant their papers and anything in their school bags became damp too.   So over the summer, we talked about getting them both new bottles for back to school.  But most importantly – not just stainless bottles – but insulated bottles.

I had done some research online so I knew I wanted to see the Chilly Bottles and the new insulated Dopper – in a larger size.  Both are just around the €30 mark and both are BPA free and insulated.  We wanted to see them in person vs just buy them from the internet and hope for the best.    There are few stores in our area which sell different bottles – Waar and WO! Concept Store.   Both stores are lovely and are my go-to stores for gifts.  In fact, yesterday I bought my SIL a Kletspot for her birthday at WO!  I have to get in and out quickly as I love to buy everything for myself 🙂 

WHAT WE BOUGHT

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Our 11 year old son was eyeing a Bamboo bottle which had a tea infuser inside, which to me was more suitable for a middle aged office worker,  but I know that would not work so well over time for my boy as it would most likely crack.  So he ended up getting the large, 580 ml (20 oz) Dopper Insulated Blazing Black – perfect for him.

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Our 9 year old daughter picked the Chilly’s Bottle 500 ml with AVOCADO’s on the outside – perfect for her.   All things avocado print are all the rage for 9 & 10 year old girls.  We didn’t buy a brush to clean it out but we might do so eventually but for now as we only use water, we’ll be fine.

LOOK A NEW DOPPER – GLASS

Dopper Glass and it looks great and insulated!! – I just don’t trust myself but if I see it in the store going to have a close inspection.  If the Chilly bottle turns out to not work for Miss M should it taste to metallic and she wants my Dopper (I offered it to her) I might have to get a replacement.

DON’T FORGET TO CLEAN IT

Any type of reusable water bottle should be washed after each use to avoid bacteria growing and spreading,.  Use washing up liquid and hot water ensuring you get into all the nooks and crannies, such as the threaded neck and cap. Alternatively, use your dishwasher if it is dishwasher-safe.

Bacteria and germs thrive in moist environments so not washing your water bottle enough provides the perfect conditions for germs to grow.  So the next time you are thinking of just giving your bottle a quick rinse, reach for the washing up liquid as well.

KINTO TRAVEL MUG

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N just returned from a meeting in Kiev, where he was a speaker and as a thank you, they gave him a gift of a KINTO Travel Tumbler mug.  Of course, he handed it to me.  I love it, a new insulated travel bottle for me to use for my coffee on the way to early morning football games 🙂

UPDATE: Soren accidentally knocked over his bottle and the top of the cap broke so he can no longer use it. Good news is that Dopper is sending me a replacement – bad news it’s on backorder so for now he’s without an insulated bottle.   We received it yesterday and it’s perfect again – back in business! 

Disclosure:   I have purchased these items myself and were not given them for free for my review.  This review is my opinion and has been written in my own words.

New Dutch Sprint Train

The kids and I took one of the NEW Sprinters from Boxtel to Eindhoven. It’s only three stops – Best, Strijp-S and then Central Station but it was fun for the kids. These new Dutch trains are amazing! Not only was it on time, but it was wicked clean and modern! While not cheap, at a total price of €17 round trip for all 3 of us, it was super modern. N has a train card which gives major reductions but he needs to be with us. (I think)

In our 2nd class carriage, there were CCTV cameras, electricity plugs and USB plugs, wifi and toilets (super clean) ones too! Both kids suddenly had to go, just to use it while moving – obviously this made me happy.

I think many countries can learn from these guys!  The MBTA in Boston ha ha 🙂

Visit to Oma Cora

We had a cozy visit with Oma Cora and Luc in Vlissening on Friday.  First yummy cake, drawing under a projector (really want one) and a game of Wildlife Quartette (it was Cora who taught them it first). 

After we took a small ride to visit a small beach area called Zouterlande.  Naturally Sorer ran down to the beach with a football.  I have a video when I better wifi, I can upload. Cora, Maebh and I visited a couple shops.  I let the kids pick out a small present and she chose a cryptic glow invisible pen which writes invisible and shows up under intra violet light.  Soren already has one, so  he chose the Dinosaur Quartette game.

We all met up on the terrace for a drink. While not too cold, the wind was chilly so under a heat lamp with blankets.

When we popped out to Lidl for a quick few things we came back to the kids and Cora playing Rubicup.  I am now on the look out for that game for the kids at a Kringloopwinklel.

Oh and we viewed some old photo albums and I just gave to share photos of Nils’ similarities​ to Soren.

Very nice day for all.  Hopefully we can repeat in August.