Cookbook author Grace Young has come to understand that making popcorn in her wok accomplishes a couple things. Arguably most importantly, it creates the lightest, airiest, most perfect popcorn. Less predictably, it also helps season her wok. “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,” Grace explains in her book, Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. “Of course, popping corn will not make a new wok suddenly look or behave like a 30-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’re content to let your wok slowly age without shortcuts, then use this recipe only if you want perfect popcorn.” And you thought you were just getting perfect popcorn.–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC Practice Makes Perfect Note
This recipe instructs you in the art of making perfect popcorn. Yet there may still be a little learning curve, a sort of dance, that eventually comes 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 certain inexact number of seconds elapse and you hear nary a pop. Knowing to crack the lid just a touch rather than forcing it tightly sealed to ensure the steam can escape—and to ensure that you escape soggy popcorn. Even—and this is the tricky part—respecting the fact that popcorn requires a minute or two of rest after being pulled from the heat to ensure the puffy white flakes turn from tough to tender. Practice, as they say, makes perfect. Don’t forget that.
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 5 M
- Makes 6 to 12 cups
Special Equipment: A 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or other large pot with a lid