Popcorn is my absolute favourite snack. It's quick to prepare, it absorbs a variety of flavours with ease, and it's healthy.
Provided you don't smother it in caramel, that is.
I eat my fair share of plain popcorn, or popcorn sprinkled with seasonings, but every once in a while I like to prepare something a bit more complicated. POPCORN!, Carol Beckerman's cookbook centred on all things popcorn (I know; you're shocked), has given me plenty of delectable recipes to try. My favourite of these is Pad Thai popcorn, a sweet, spicy, stick-to-your-teeth snack that's more than worth the time it takes to prepare.
Y'all know of my great love for Pad Thai. I eat it whenever the opportunity presents itself--which isn't as often as I'd like, now I live thousands of miles away from my Pad Thai dealer of choice, but a person's gotta take what they can get. This fabulous popcorn helps kill the craving in between noodle bowls.
As an added bonus, it's easy to render vegan. Hurray!
- 15 cups fresh-popped popcorn (not microwave)
- 1- to 1.5 cups peanuts (optional)
- 1 cup backed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup golden syrup (you can use corn if you live in a sad, golden syrup-free land)
- 5 tsp lime juice (bottled is fine)
- 2 tbsp lime zest (optional, but tasty)
- 1 tsp fish sauce (soy is an adequate substitute if you're vegan)
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
Preheat your oven to 120C/250F.
Place your popped popcorn in an extra large bowl. If you're using the peanuts, give them a light crush or chop and add them to the popcorn.
Mix the brown sugar, olive oil, syrup, and lime juice in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and let it cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat and immediately add the fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, garlic powder, and baking soda. You can also add the lime zest if you're using it, but it really is optional if you've used bottled lime juice and would rather not buy a lime.
Pour the sauce over the popcorn and give it a good toss with a greased spatula. Once it's more or less evenly coated, divide it between two large, greased cookie sheets and bake it for 45 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout the cooking process.
Let the cooked popcorn cool, then break up any large chunks and return it to your enormous bowl. Properly covered, it should keep for up to a week.