Pop It Like It's Hot...

For better or worse, I now share my home with a voracious snacker. I've actually never been much of a snacker; I usually consume snack foods in meal-size portions like half a bag of Doritos in one sitting, or a third of a package of Oreos at a time (though I'm doing better on that front than I did when I was in college). I never really snacked much growing up either, in fact, the after school snack enjoyed by so many kids was practically an unknown entity in our home, probably because we always ate dinner so early, usually around five o'clock.

However, my beloved is a constant grazer -- at times, I wonder if there is a black hole where his stomach should be. As a result, we keep more snack foods in the house than I ever did as a single person, and I find myself constantly on the hunt for new snack ideas that previously would have flown under my radar.

It was one of these ideas that Justin spotted when I finally managed to get him to look at my food-related Pinterest boards yesterday, to get his input on what he might be interested in making, now that he is doing more of the savory cooking around here. With laser-like focus, he honed in on a popcorn recipe I'd saved, that called for smoked paprika and Japanese snack crackers. You see, Justin already has a recipe in his repertoire for a popcorn and Japanese snack cracker blend, so I though he might like to try this variation just for the sake of trying something new. I was right.

Given our bountiful and well-stocked pantry, we actually had everything we needed to make this popcorn treat in our house already, despite the somewhat exotic ingredient list. Justin whipped up a batch today, almost the moment we walked in the door after work.

I wasn't even planning on eating it at all, since I'm sort of a popcorn traditionalist, and prefer to stick to butter and salt on mine. But as Justin rhapsodized over his new creation and proclaimed smoked paprika to be his new favorite spice, I decided to give it taste. I actually rather enjoyed the smoky/sweet combination that came from the paprika and a sprinkling of sugar. It was like a more complex version of kettle corn.

The rice crackers weren't doing it for me, but then again, I've never really been a fan. As it was, I just sort of picked around them, but in the future, if we were ever between visits to H-Mart and out of rice crackers, I would be more than happy to eat the popcorn with just salt, sugar, smoked paprika and butter. It may even turn me into snacker...

Smoky Popcorn
adapted from Food & Wine

1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. plus 2 tablespoons popping corn
1 teaspoon smoked hot Spanish paprika
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
1 tablespoon Japanese furikake mix*
2 c. Japanese mixed rice crackers
Kosher salt

1. In a large saucepan, combine the oil and popcorn, cover and cook over moderate heat until it starts to pop. Shake the pan and cook until the corn stops popping.
2. Transfer the hot popcorn to a large bowl. Sprinkle with the paprika and sugar and toss well. Drizzle with the butter and toss, adding the furikake and rice crackers. Season with salt, toss again and serve.

*Furikake is a seasoning mix that includes seaweed, sesame seeds, sugar, salt and dried bonito (dried fish flakes).

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