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Carbon Steel & Cast Iron Cookware User Guide

Please be sure to read this entire instruction manual before the first use to ensure the kitchen safety. Click here to view all carbon steel wok recipes.

FULL VIDEO: How do you season and maintain a Japanese carbon steel wok

Japanese carbon steel is made with specially heat treated metal to create a cooking surface that is ready-to-use. Once the wok is seasoned for five minutes, it can be used right away. The nitriding process makes the cookware highly resistant to rust and extremely durable. 

  • For non-nitriding woks and frypans (only the Takumi brand), please see point 12 for additional cleaning and maintenance suggestions.
  • Please note that there will be marks and patterns all over the wok once we put the wok into use. We also need to season the wok with oil everytime after use. 
  • Carbon steel is not non-stick. It is unrealistic to expect the cookware to perform the same way as a nonstick wok/pan does.
  • It is essential to use oil with a high smoke point. This is 200 degrees celsius or higher. Examples are avocado oil, canola oil, corn oil, and peanut oil.
  • Users may use this link to see more information about the nature of Japanse carbon steel cookware.

Before first use: oil seasoning

First, wash the frying pan/wok’s inner and outer surface with dish soap. Once you have seasoned the inner surface with oil, you can use it right away. 

  1. Wash the frypan/wok’s inner and outer surface with dish soap.
  2. Dry completely with paper towels
  3. Pour in enough oil to fill about 1/3 of your frypan/wok’s capacity
  4. Heat it on low for about 5 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and return the oil to a suitable container.
  6. Use paper towels to spread the remaining oil fully around the inner surface.
  7. You may refer to the video tutorial above.

Before every use: oil return (optional)

Professional and skilled amateur chefs always conduct “oil returns” on their frying pans before using them.

  1. Warm up your frying pan on medium heat.
  2. Add a sufficient amount of oil (about a ladle’s worth) to the frying pan and let it acclimatize to the frying pan’s cooking surface.
  3. Once the oil has heated up, return it to its oil pot. This is the process known as “oil return”.
  4. These steps make cooking with a carbon steel pan/wok easier.

When finished

  1. Carbon steel frying pans and woks are not storage containers. When finished cooking, put any leftovers in an appropriate container.
  2. Use a scrub sponge to wash it with warm water. Do not wash it in the dishwasher.
  3. For stubborn stains, you can use Bakers Friend and steel wool. Scratching carbon steel does not harm it. 
  4. When it comes to non-nitriding woks and frypans (which are only Takumi brands), it is easier to remove the oil-protective layer. It is not recommended to scratch the wok too hard.
  5. When done, rinse the pan off and wipe it dry, or;
  6. Then heat it over low heat. This helps dry the frypan/wok completely after washing.
  7. Season it with a tablespoon of oil before storing it.
  8. The blackish colour you may find on the wok is a result of normal oxidation.

1. If food is burnt 

Adding hot water and bringing it to a boil will soften the burned food and make it easier to remove. Then use a scrub brush to remove any final remnants. 

2. The importance of a proper cooking temperature

Carbon steel conducts heat quickly. It is recommended to use medium to medium high heat for most types of cooking. You can find more details on our online recipes. If your oil is smoking, it means your temperature is too high. 

On an electromagnetic cooktop, avoid immediately putting your frypan/wok onto high heat. First, set the cooktop to low heat and let it heat up. Then use medium heat and slowly start to turn it up until it reaches the right temperature. 

3. A yellowish colour

Using a low smoking point oil (such as extra virgin olive oil) with high heat will cause the oil to burn with a yellowish color. It does not need to be cleaned. Keep cooking and seasoning with high smoke point oil, and the wok will return to normal. 

4. Blackish colour = Normal oxidation

The blackish colour you may find on the wok is a result of normal oxidation. Simply clean it with water and season it with oil according to the instructions.

5. Loose handles

You can use a screwdriver to tighten the handle’s bolt by turning it clockwise until the handle is firmly in place.

6. Food turning blackish

Foods like burdock root, lotus root, udo, and eggplant absorb a lot of iron and turn a blackish color. There is no effect on taste, nor does it pose any sort of harm if consumed.

7. Change of color during use

If you use your frying pan/wok to make tomato sauce, fruit jam, or other dishes that involve boiling sour ingredients for long periods of time, your frying pan’s surface may whiten in color. It is perfectly safe to continue using it. As you continue to cook with oil, the inner surface will gradually return to its original condition.

8. Uneven surface

The special heat-treatment process sometimes results in distinctive unevenness on the bottom, but this has no effect on the pan’s performance. It is not possible to make a warped frying pan/wok’s bottom surface flat again.

9. Marks/whitening on wok

Please note that once you begin using your wok, it will no longer look new. Discolouration and dark marks all over the wok are common.

Whitening on the wok or frypan is normal. It may appear in patterns or in dots.

10. Do NOT scratch too hard

If you scratch hard enough to peel off the protective oil layer, no permanent damage is done. Simply maintain it with oil again and you will see the wok turn black again over the course of a few months.

This is normal and does not mean any chemical coating is coming off. 

11. Pits in a carbon steel wok or frypan

Pits in a carbon steel wok or frypan are not a rare case. This happens as a result of insufficient oil layers as well as possible food storage after cooking, for example, if food is left for more than an hour in the wok. You may re-season your wok and continue using it without issues.

Food should not be left in the wok for long periods of time. Consider it a tool for cooking, not for storing food. The wok should be thoroughly cleaned after use. Then season it with a full spoon of oil.

In cases like this, customers may have seasoned their wok, but nevertheless the technicians sometimes find the amount of oil insufficient to maintain the wok in a good condition. Be sure the wok looks shiny after you apply oil on the surface.

Please see two images below. Both woks are seasoned, but the left one looks very dry within 5 minutes after seasoning. The right one still looks shiny with the oil layer. Please ensure your wok is seasoned like a right one -- shiny even 5 minutes afterwards.

Wok without oil seasoning Wok with oil seasoning

12. Never use carbon steel pan in microwave.

We are not supposed to put any metals in the microwave. It has the potential of damaging your microwave. Carbon steel cookware is not oven-safe because of its wood handle.

13. Maintaining a carbon steel wok/frypan without nitriding (the Takumi brand)

A carbon steel wok without nitriding is coated with food-grade silicone layer. The layer will wash away after the first wash. Oil seasoning is a must or the cookware will rust.

If the cookware surface is burned, do not scratch it. Adding hot water and bringing it to a boil will soften the burned food and make it easier to remove. Then use a scrubbing brush to remove any final remnants. Do not scratch the wok too hard.

It is normal for Takumi wok to have protective layers come off as it is not nitrided. If you do not want black residue then you should purchase nitrided brands such as Yoshikawa, Kankuma, or Riverlight.

If the protective oil layer peels off, season it. Once you put the wok into use, the carbon steel will expand and absorb the cooking oil. In a few months, the colour of the wok will gradually turn to black with oxidised protective layers covering the entire wok.

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