Popcorn (with, ahem, a goblet of red wine) is my signature comfort food; it’s what I crave after a hard day or if I’m settling down on the couch for a night of t.v. or to watch a movie. A number of years back, I went through this Hawaiian Hurricane popcorn faze where I must have consumed this concoction of buttery popcorn with Japanese furikake and rice crackers on a daily basis for weeks on end. As expected, I made myself sick and had to swear off the stuff, but a recent conversation with a friend (who is a homemade popcorn snob!) made me think revisiting the idea, on a healthier, homemade basis, might not be such a bad idea…
Furikake is a Japanese seasoning that is typically sprinkled on top of cooked rice but is truly an all-purpose condiment. There are different versions with the core of roasted seaweed, sesame seeds, salt and sugar mixed in with other ingredients like bonito flakes, ground shiso leaf, dried egg, miso, salmon flakes, and powdered soy sauce. It’s a truly umami experience, and once you try it, you start thinking of other ways to incorporate furikake into your cooking.
And, on top of popcorn, drizzled with butter – it’s perfect! You get that crunch of the popcorn along with lovely butteriness, saltiness, a touch of sweet, nuttiness from the sesame and rice crackers, a (very pleasant) touch of fishiness from the bonito flakes, and that umami of the seaweed. Consume this in moderation lest you fall into an addictive phase like I did. This is an elevated version of popcorn worthy of being served at parties or simply as a special treat for the family. Enjoy!
Yields approximately 14 cups (one big bowl)
4 tbsps vegetable or blended oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
4 tbsps unsalted butter
½ tsp soy sauce
4 tbsps furikake (see recipe below)
1 ¼ cups Japanese rice crackers (optional)
In a medium-sized pot or large saucepan with a cover, add the oil so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Add the popcorn, cover, and place over medium-high heat. When the kernels start to pop, shake the pan until the popping slows to a few seconds between each pop. Shaking the pan will help to prevent the popcorn from burning.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the soy sauce and furikake. If using, add the rice crackers to the popped popcorn, and pour the butter-soy-furikake mixture all over, tossing to coat. Tranfer to a large bowl and serve warm.
Homemade Furikake Ingredients
Yields approximately 4 tbsps
3 tbsps roasted shredded seaweed*, torn into smaller pieces
¾ tsp bonito flakes**
1 ½ tsps black and/or white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light brown sugar
Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
*If you can’t find this, you can roast nori or seaweed sheets in a skillet over medium heat until they turn crisp. They can then easily be torn or crumbled into small pieces.
** Look for the smallest flakes to use here. Bonito flakes are from a type of tuna that is cooked, smoked and dried.