Recipe: Stovetop Popcorn

Stovetop Popcorn

Stovetop Popcorn
Making popcorn at home could not be easier. It's one of my favorite snacks to make because it's quick, affordable, and nourishing. Plus, it is endlessly fun! Somehow the ping-ping sound of a corn kernel popping never gets old.

I love to customize popcorn to suit my mood. You can drizzle some salted butter, if you're feeling classic, or you can sprinkle on just about any spice in your pantry. I've tried fennel seeds, sesame, za'atar, crushed hot peppers, and many more. One trick I've learned is to add the spices directly to the bowl that the popcorn will be served in. If you add them to the pot that the popcorn cooks in, the spices just end up stuck to the sides and can easily burn. Here is my go-to popcorn recipe. It is followed by a few variations, each named for a different world city. How would the popcorn from your city be seasoned?

Makes about 8 cups

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup popping corn
2 tablespoons melted butter, for drizzling
Salt, for sprinkling

Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. Add the popping corn and tilt the pot to coat the corn in the oil. Set the lid on the pot, leaving it slightly ajar. As soon as you hear the first corn kernel pop, remove the pot from the heat, shake it vigorously (with the lid on) to move the kernels around, then let the pot cool down for about a minute. Return it to the heat, leaving the lid ajar once again, and continue cooking the corn until you hear the kernels stop popping, about 5 minutes. It is better to have a few un-popped kernels than to have even one burned kernel, so don't leave the pot on the heat to linger for too long. Pour the popped kernels into a large bowl.

Warm the butter and pour it over the popcorn. Sprinkle a big pinch of salt and toss well. Serve the popcorn while it's still warm.

Variations:

Beirut Popcorn
Instead of melted butter, warm 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons za'atar, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, and ½ teaspoon sumac. Pour the seasoned oil over the popcorn, toss well, and serve.

Palermo Popcorn
Instead of melted butter, warm 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the seasoned oil over popcorn, toss well, and serve.

Calcutta Popcorn
Instead of melted butter, warm 2 tablespoons ghee. Stir in 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the spices in the ghee for a few minutes until the mixture smells very fragrant. Pour it over the popcorn, toss well, and serve.

About the Author

Maria Zizka is a Berkeley-born food writer and cook. She writes recipes and stories from a little cottage near Santa Monica Beach.
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