How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Growing up in the South, I always loved cooking with my grandmother’s cast iron pan. I finally decided it was time to buy one of my own, so I went with Lodge, of course. I’m sure it will be great as soon as I can figure out this seasoning thing. Since a cast iron skillet is literally a hunk of metal, the seasoning process is important. There is advice all over the internet about how best to season a cast iron skillet, and it’s all a little confusing because none of it agrees 100%. Here’s the method I ultimately went with, and I’m happy to say, so far so good.

What is Seasoning?
When you buy a new cast iron skillet, it will likely come with some degree of pre-seasoning, but you’ll want to add more layers to make sure it’s in good shape What does this all mean? In a cast iron skillet, when oil is heated to its smoke point, its fatty acids oxidize into a plastic-like layer of molecules that essentially becomes part of the pan and creates the slick coating known as seasoning. Adding layer after layer makes it even more non-stick—this is the seasoning process.

How to Season Cast Iron
This seasoning method takes a while, but it’s pretty straight forward. Here are my best recommendations:
1. Wash and dry your pan—ALWAYS by hand and never in the dishwasher, which will strip all the seasoning
2. To open up the surface, warm the pan for 15 minutes in a 200-degree oven.
3. Remove the pan from the oven. Rub the oil (vegetable, canola, or corn) all over the pan—inside and out, including the handle—using paper towels. With fresh paper towels, buff the pan to remove excess oil so it no longer looks shiny.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
5. Place the pan upside down on a baking sheet and insert into heated oven. Heat the pan for a half-hour and then let cool.
6. Rub the pan with oil as before and repeat the process up to four more times to set your initial layer of seasoning. The pan should develop a dark surface at looks vaguely like non-stick coating.

The Best Dishes in Vietnam

pho

Vietnamese dishes can be said to be the hidden culinary treasures of the Far East. There is an astounding variety of dishes that focus heavily on rice, seafood, and plenty of herbs. As a tourist in Vietnam, you get closely acquainted with nuoc cham, which is a combination of garlic, chili, sugar, and lime juice and fish sauce. Whatever dish you are having, you can be sure there will be a bowl of this delightfully tasty sauce to dunk, dip, or sip. Next time you are in Vietnam, try out these dishes.

Cao lau
This dish is from central Vietnam and is a dish of thick rice flour noodles, pork rind croutons, and bean sprouts. This is served in a bowl with a light spicy soup with star anise and mint. It is eaten with grilled rice crackers or crispy rice paper topped with thin slices of pork.

Bahn mi
Bahn loosely translates to bread. Bahn Mi is easily the most popular Vietnamese dish known to the world. It is basically a baguette sandwich filled with greens, some meat, and sauce. Bahn Mi carts are ubiquitous in Ho Chi Minh City and other cities.

Goi cuon
This dish is highly popular in Vietnam and is very visually interesting with translucent spring rolls. The rolls are packed with coriander, greens, and a combination of minced pork and shrimp or crab. The rolls are served with a bowl of mint or lettuce. The southern Goi Cuon is made by wrapping barbecued strips of pork with green banana and star fruit.

Bahn Xeo
This loosely translates into ‘sizzling pancake.’ These enormous pancakes contain eggs, shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. The pancake is wrapped in rice paper and greens. This is dunked into nuoc cham sauce when eating.

Pho
This dish is Vietnam’s staple dish. It is eaten at any time of the day—good for breakfast or as a snack. It is basically noodles served in broth. The light broth can be beef- or chicken-flavored with coriander or ginger. Flat rice noodles are added to the broth along with pieces of chicken, beef, or pork.

Cha ca
This is one of the more popular seafood dishes. It is white fish sautéed in butter with onions and dill. It served with rice noodles and a handful of peanuts.

Bun cha
Bun Cha is a Hanoi specialty. It is a small hamburger with pork patties barbecued on an open charcoal grill. The patties are laid on rice noodles and filled with different vegetables. Like so many other things, it is dunked in the nuoc cham.