14 May 2012

Recipe a Day: Popcorn in a Wok

When we lived in Bishkek before, we bought popcorn a few times and my husband made it in a pot.  I never liked it much- it was always too oily and popcorn didn't pop very well.  I assume it was a combination of cooking technique (he makes up for it by doing more cleaning than I do) and lower-quality kernels.  We could get microwave popcorn sometimes to fill our need for popcorn.

This time is different though.  I haven't seen microwave popcorn for sale anywhere (although they've given us a few packages when we've gone on the US military base) and we're short on American friends.  I don't much like to buy popped corn here either because it's usually sweet, and in my opinion, popcorn should never be sweet.

So when I noticed a bag of popcorn at Beta Stores just before Christmas, I decided that we'd try it again over Christmas break.  We've been happily eating popcorn ever since.

I always use this wok.  There's one nice, long handle; it has a lid; and it holds plenty of popcorn.  I think it's perfect.  However, you can use any old large pot.

You just need your pot/wok, a tiny bit of oil, and some popcorn.

Heat your wok over high heat and add the oil.  You really need just a tiny bit of oil.  I think anything more makes the popcorn taste nasty.  It needs to barely cover the bottom of the pot.  When it's hot, it's easy to spread around.  And I guess I forgot to crop this photo.

Throw in your popcorn.  It can cover the bottom, but don't make the layer too thick.  It's easier to burn if there's too much in there.  Lower the heat to maybe medium-high.  It's hard for me to say how high because my stove doesn't have marks on it like that.  Also, the burner I'm using here is much hotter on the right side than the left.  But don't cook it over high heat.

Then put on the lid and start to shake.  It needs to keep shaking pretty much the whole time.  You can pause a little every 5 seconds or so if you need to.  If it feels like it's taking forever, you might turn up the heat a little, but be careful. And even though you probably don't care, I recommend Fairy Dish Soap (seen in the corner) if you live in Bishkek.  It's a little more expensive, but nice.  But if you don't have a sink or running water, I don't recommend it.  It bubbles up a lot and it's very annoying to rinse dishes with lots of suds on them without a sink.  Carry on.

Keep it covered and keep on shaking till the popping stops.  It's not hard to make sure all the kernels pop.  You might get a few that burn, but I've had really good luck with this system.

And here it is.  Flavor it however you want to.  It's basically like air-popped corn.


  1. AnonymousMay 15, 2012

    Hi Amira:

    I am going to Bishkek in the first days of June. I'll be there a month. I am a Mormon from Puerto Rico. I think it would be nice to meet you when I get there. I wrote an email to you, but I am not sure that works.

    Clara L. Cruz

  2. Hi Clara, I emailed you a few minutes ago.