*Actual Pro Standards* for Carbon Steel Seasoning

22
10
Joined Jul 27, 2015
Hey all,

Long time lurker with only a few posts. I’m an avid home cook with almost exclusively carbon steel and cast iron (both high quality), and I have come to the following question:

In a pro kitchen or in a pro’s home kitchen, how much worry or perfection goes into the smoothness of seasoning on a carbon steel skillet?

For example, I have a great piece from Blanc - a 13” roaster - that is seasoned very well but still new-ish, and tonight I used some soy sauce in it. The soy sauce created the first sticky substance which I’ve barely been able to get off. Even after I scoured it with salt, etc., it still didn’t come all the way back to smoothness.

The thing is, I do not want to be precious about these pans, I want them to just work great. Which brings me again to:

Would a pro just be like “who cares?”, and move on with it, cooking and seasoning over it?

Thanks in advance for your help. Unfortunately, I don’t have any chef friends to ask.

Best wishes to all,
MG
 
3,641
583
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Burnt food debris is not seasoning. It’s burnt food debris.

Seasoning is not a one-time thing. It needs to be maintained. After the initial seasoning a good wash is what’s needed after use. The cooking oils and cooking sessions build that initial seasoning. Sometimes it gets a bit altered. Press on. About the only situation that’s really problematic is forgetting an empty pan on the hob and burning the seasoning off. Then it’s back to square one.
 
3,641
583
Joined Dec 18, 2010
BTW, real pros value their tools. They may not buy the most expensive or trendy tools, but it’s how they make a living so a “who cares?” attitude is the sign of a loser.
 
22
10
Joined Jul 27, 2015
BTW, real pros value their tools. They may not buy the most expensive or trendy tools, but it’s how they make a living so a “who cares?” attitude is the sign of a loser.
Thanks for the responses. Understood to the above points.

So you know, I take meticulous care of all of my equipment, professional and residential. I own and operate a recording studio with 50+ yr old equipment and instruments, and I have nice tools in the kitchen - cutlery and skillets - because I value them and want to own pro gear that travels through time with me. Hence my question.

This particular issue is confusing and concerning me because the soy sauce stuck on like nothing else I’ve experienced. I’ve had almost no real sticking up to this point because of quality seasoning processes, I asked because I didn’t want to mistakenly scour through seasoning. I tried scrubbier, oil and coarse salt, and finally some soap.

A bottom line question: if it LOOKS odd, but is completely smooth the touch, would you normally presume it’s cleaned sufficiently, and then hit it with a stove top seasoning touch up?

Thanks again for your advice!
MG
 
3,641
583
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Burn sticky goo should soak off. Shorten the soak by adding water and boiling. it might leave a minor change in color but that’s par for the course. If it’s smooth it’s clean. No need for “touch up seasoning “...

mans, your right... you don’t want to scour the seasoning off!
 
969
569
Joined Mar 1, 2017
Just to add to brianshaw brianshaw 's good advice, its next to impossible to "scrub off" the seasoning in a properly seasoned cast iron or carbon steel pan by hand. When a pan builds its seasoning, the oils that form the seasoning actually become bonded to the metal of the pan. The seasoning forms a very tough, very hard layer that you would literally need a belt sander to remove. I doubt very much that elbow grease and a scouring pad will do your pan's seasoning any harm.

Like Brian said, soak the pan with the caked on soy and then bring the water to a boil. That should soften up the soy so it can be removed. Repeat as necessary. It still may require some elbow grease to remove. But, nevertheless, it will come off sooner or later.

Good luck. :)
 
447
151
Joined Sep 17, 2018
I would consider re-seasoning and seeing if you missed something during the steps. Soy sauce is such a common ingredients in stir-fry I would be curious as to why it would immediately cake on to a well seasoned pan.
 
22
10
Joined Jul 27, 2015
Hey all,

Thanks so much for the excellent advice and input. Much appreciated and apologies for the delay.

Through my journey of learning how to properly season with my methods available, I wanted to agree that I could not scour through a proper seasoning. And as of my most recent techniques I haven't done any harm to the seasoning.

I am happy to hear about the soak and boil (deglaze?) method - I had wondered if soaking and such would not be advised, but I will definitely try it.

I was able to get it completely smooth, so I think this issue is solved.

Regarding the re-seasoning, the thing is that it probably could use a further few rounds of seasoning properly. Given that I'm not a pro, my family members greatly dislike when I season pans indoors (haha). So I have to do it when I get an opportunity, and I can't go all the way with it as I'd like. What I have on there is a good few initial rounds that are properly on their way. Not sticky, don't flake or wipe off, etc.. I've been doing smoke seasoning on my gas stovetop and using buzzywaxx and it's truly amazing how well it works compared to other oils I've tried. I'm sure there will be differing opinions on that but that's ok with me :)

Thanks all for your help and I'm all ears if anyone has any other thoughts.

Hope you all are safe and well,
MG
 
22
10
Joined Jul 27, 2015
I would consider re-seasoning and seeing if you missed something during the steps. Soy sauce is such a common ingredients in stir-fry I would be curious as to why it would immediately cake on to a well seasoned pan.
Regarding your note, I think what happened here was ultimately that my pan was not hot enough. I added shrimp and soy sauce, and the shrimp's coolness, plus the residual water they contained, plus the soy sauce caused a little boiling and oil displacement, which I think is what caused the salt to stick. But who knows, feel free to school me if I'm wrong.

I love learning perpetually and I'm very appreciative of all that I've learned from this forum.

Best,
MG
 
Top Bottom