I'm not Muslim. I'm Catholic, and Chinese. Although I have many Muslim friends.

I don't know if many Muslims know this, but traditionally, when we Chinese buy a new (cast iron) wok, we need to break in the wok by using a big piece of pork fat and some garlic chives to vigorously scrub the cooking side of the wok until it's smooth. And then we clean the wok.

The intent is not to eat the pork fat, just to make the wok surface smooth and make frying easier. Ideally, we only need to do it once per new wok.

Does that automatically make wok-based dishes haram?

Does anybody know of alternative ways that Chinese Muslims use to break in new woks?

  • 1
    This is not unique to China; most cast iron cookware is seasoned using a similar method.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


Pork in its entirety in unclean. It is not permitted to eat in a vessel which has come into contact with it, unless it is unavoidable and that too after it is washed.

أو لحم خنزير فإنه رجس

or the flesh of swine - for indeed, it is impure

Quran 6:145

عن أبي ثعلبة الخشني أنه سأل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إنا نجاور أهل الكتاب وهم يطبخون في قدورهم الخنزير ويشربون في آنيتهم الخمر فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إن وجدتم غيرها فكلوا فيها واشربوا وإن لم تجدوا غيرها فارحضوها بالماء وكلوا واشربوا

Abu Tha’labah al-khushani said that he asked the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ):

"We live in the neighbourhood of the People of the Book and they cook in their pots (the flesh of) swine and drink wine in their vessels."

The Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said: "If you find any other pots, then eat in them and drink. But if you do not find any others, then wash them with water and eat and drink (In them)."

Abu Daud; also recorded by Bukhari and Muslim etc.

I don't know what Chinese Muslims do, but I guess that any halal source of grease could be used instead.

  • Since the seasoning process polymerizes the fat, it's important to note that even after washing the seasoned coating would remain on the pan. Would the principle of istihala apply here?
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 16:12
  • @goldPseudo There is disagreement on whether istihala purifies a najas al-ayn such as pig. Also whether polymerization qualifies as istihala is dubious.
    – UmH
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 8:43

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