Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Working Eater Series: Popcorn, Elevated
Like most people, my "go-to" snack is popcorn. If it is not smothered in butter or margarine, laden with salt, or coated in a hard candy shell, it is a healthy, ethereal, and satisfying alternative to greasy and sugary snacks. And it usually is a staple in everyone's pantry! I usually try to air-pop my popcorn with dried corn kernels and a brown bag. All you need to do is fill a small paper lunch bag with 1/2 a cup of dried corn kernels, tightly fold or crumple it shut, and microwave it on high for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your microwave settings and when the popping sound decreases (just like the directions on the processed kind). Follow those directions, and you will have instant microwaved popcorn. For popcorn, do not resort to the artificially-flavored and carcinogenic popcorn brands of the Orville Redenbacher, Pop Secret, or Act II-persuasion. However, plain popcorn is monotonous and buttered popcorn quickly gets tedious without something extra special to elevate it into "spectacular" territory. For me, I love furikake, a slightly sweet and very umami/savory Japanese spice blend made of dried bonito fish flakes, seaweed, and other flavorings. If you are not familiar with furikake, think anchovies or fish sauce, but less salty and in a dried form. For a Japanese or Hawaiian-inspired popcorn snack, just add (1) slivers of nori (dried seaweed), (2) a couple of tablespoons of dried furikake seasoning, (3) several drops of dark sesame oil (very intensely flavored, so act with a judicious hand), and (4) a pinch or two of wasabi powder for the perfect flavor profile. You could also add salted peanuts too! For a N'Awlins-inspired popcorn, dissolve a teaspoon or so of creole seasoning and a few dashes of Tabasco with a melted tablespoon of butter and quickly toss the mixture in with the popcorn and feast away! For a South American-inspired popcorn, I usually just add salt, chile powder, and the juice of 1/2 a lime. This combo works with corn on the cob too, and it is divine! I have also heard of additions of dried oregano, cumin, and parmesan cheese, but I have yet to try those flavor combos. Do you have any "spectacular" popcorn ideas to share? I would love to hear your suggestions!