by Douglas Abrams
I go to the movies for one reason and one reason only: popcorn. Buttered, unbuttered, salted, unsalted, sweetened, unsweetened, cheesed, uncheesed, carameled, uncarameled; popcorn is always the perfect snack.
At home, the best way to make popcorn is with an air popper. If you don’t have one, you can use a pan with a little bit of oil, but be careful not to burn the kernels.
After making a base pile of popcorn, it is time to add toppings and variations. One is faced with a crucial decision: whether to dress the popcorn with sweet or savory ingredients.
Let’s start with sweet. A classic is caramel popcorn. To start, make a caramel sauce by melting sugar and a little bit of water in a pan. When the caramel is a light brown color, add butter and cream and stir vigorously. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and salt generously.
On to savory. The most basic way to dress any popcorn, savory or sweet, is to start with butter and salt. I find it fun to do variations of this basic concept by using oils and adding spices and herbs. One of my favorite creations is peanut oil with crushed cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. In addition, basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese gives popcorn a distinctively italian taste.
Here are some other ideas for how to dress popcorn:
- Barbecue sauce
- Soy sauce, peanut oil, and sugar
- Cheddar cheese
- Chocolate, and salt
- Tarragon, salt, and butter
- Peach marmalade, and salt
You can honestly go in any flavor direction you want with popcorn. Asian, Italian, Indian, American: popcorn is a blank medium, so have fun.