Updated: Jan 23
Last Sunday was International Popcorn Day which instantly brought to mind childhood memories of weekly visits to the cinema and huge containers of utterly delicious salty, crunchy popcorn. And since we were intending to watch a DVD that evening – and since I fortuitously had some popping corn in the kitchen cupboard - I decided to have some fun with it. Furthermore, it occurred to me that popcorn is in fact a healthy snack, providing protein, fibre, folic acid, iron, beta-carotene and lutein, and it is SO easy to make in a saucepan on the stove. I had been using smoked paprika in a cookery demonstration the day before and I reckoned that smoky popcorn had to be a blissful combination. Smoked paprika is available at most supermarkets but I used Steenberg’s of Yorkshire smoked paprika which is organic and delivers a perfect shot of mellow, spicy savouriness. I suspect that any of their spice blends – chermoula, tagine, ras el hanout, baharat, Malay Masala, chipotle – would be dream partners for popcorn and well worth an afternoon of experimenting in the near future.
15 ml/1 tbsp organic coconut oil
50 g/2 oz popping corn – available at most supermarkets
5 ml/1 tsp smoked paprika, or to taste
2.5 ml fine sea or Himalayan salt, or to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in a roomy saucepan and add 2 corn kernels. Cover the pan and listen for the corn to pop. As soon as it does, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining corn. Count to 60 and then place the saucepan back over medium heat. Cover it but keep the lid slightly askew to allow the steam to escape. Once it starts popping again, give the saucepan a slight shake. Let the corn pop away, shaking the pan every fifteen seconds or so, until the popping slows down to about once every 8 to 10 seconds. By now, all the kernels should have popped, although there are always a few which flatly refuse to do anything.
Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle with smoked paprika and salt, stir well with a spatula and transfer to a bowl.