Cookbook author Grace Young discovered that making popcorn in her wok accomplished two important things: It delivered a great snack and helped season her pan. She writes, “As the kernels pop, they evenly disperse a light coating of oil around the wok’s entire inside surface, which the heat then burns in. Of course, popping corn will not make a new wok suddenly look or behave like a thirty-year-old pan. The traditional way to develop a patina once the wok has been seasoned is to cook regularly with the wok; you cannot replicate the elegance of a truly old wok overnight. However, the popcorn trick will cheat the process a little. If you are content to let your wok slowly age without shortcuts, then use this recipe only if you want perfect popcorn.” —Grace Young
Author’s Minimal Mess Note: To reduce clean up, I wrap the inside of the wok’s lid in aluminum foil, since the oil is dispersed not only on the wok’s inside surface but also on the lid.–Grace Young
LC Practice Makes Perfect Note
This is the perfect blueprint for making perfect popcorn, in any vessel, actually. Yet there may still be a little learning curve, a sort of dance, that needs to happen in front of your stove to ensure that your popcorn pops properly. Like learning to increase the heat ever so slightly if a couple minutes go by and you hear nary a pop. Knowing to crack the lid a bit so that steam can escape to avoid slightly sodden popcorn. Even—and this is the tricky part—understanding that popcorn requires a minute or two of resting after being pulled from the heat and before being noshed to ensure the puffy white flakes turn from tough to tender. Practice, as they say, makes perfect. Don’t forget that. And don’t forget that just because you aren’t at the movie theatre doesn’t mean you can’t drizzle on lots and lots of melted butter—the real deal, not that melted butter-flavoring fakery.
Perfect Popcorn Recipe
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes | Total Time: 5 minutes | Makes 6 to 12 cups
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- Coarse salt, to taste
- 1. Heat the oil and just a few popcorn kernels in a covered 14-inch flat-bottomed wok (or over very large pot) over medium heat until 1 or 2 kernels begin to pop, about 1 1/2 minutes.
- 2. Quickly open the lid just enough to pour in the remaining popcorn. Immediately cover the wok and reduce the heat to medium-low. If you do not hear constant popping, increase the heat to medium. Shake the wok constantly back and forth on the burner until the kernels stop popping, about 1 1/2 minutes. Immediately dump the popcorn into a bowl and salt to taste.
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Perfect Popcorn Recipe © 2010 Grace Young. Photo © 2009 drmuerte. All rights reserved.