Popcorn is one of the most prosaic bar snacks in existence. Easy to make, beloved by everyone, inoffensive to a fault—not that there’s anything wrong with any of these things. Happily, those fluffy white kernels offer a blank canvas for a chef who wants to shock the system. At San Francisco’s new Liholiho Yacht Club, chef-owner Ravi Kapur throws down a bowl of popcorn with an appetite-whetting umami hit. The kernels are seasoned with furikake (a Japanese rice seasoning made with dried bonito, sesame seeds and seaweed), and blasted with a wallop of togarashi, aka red chile powder. A lashing of butter makes sure that the seasonings hold tight and a short stint in the oven bakes the flavor in. Fourteen cups might seem like a lot of popcorn, but this savory snack goes down fast and easy—just like the popcorn you already know and love.
*Makes about 14 cups
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon Onion powder
- ¼ cup Neutral oil
- 1 cup Popcorn kernels
- 1 stick Unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon Togarashi
- 3 tablespoons Furikake
Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the salt with the garlic and onion powders.
In a heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the popcorn kernels, stir to coat evenly with the oil, and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and when the corn starts popping, rapidly shake the pan. When the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the lid and dump the popcorn into a bowl immediately. Pour the melted butter over the popcorn, add the salt mixture, togarashi and furikake and mix gently. Spread the seasoned popcorn on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
Jan Newberry has been writing about food for more than 25 years. She was the food and wine editor of San Francisco magazine from 2000 until 2012, and her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, and Bon Appétit. She is the co-author of several cookbooks, including The Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook, Bar Tartine and the forthcoming Gjelina.