There’s a radio station in the DMV that plays Christmas music starting from the middle of November, and every year I make it my personal objective to fill all proximal airspace with as much snowball-throwing, jingle-belling, reindeer-abusing cheer as possible.
Not everyone enjoys it as much as I do. Sarah’s sister Rose, who stayed with us for the weekend, and who we subjected to the same Christmas album on repeat for several hours, did not. Which is surprising; she’s been informing us since September how many days are left until Christmas. Still, the death threats were made, even though I attempted to pacify her with “Ave Maria” sung in my most soothing (read: very bad) baritone.
As she lay sprawled on the couch imagining the hundreds of other places she would rather be, however, I may have hazarded my personal health by putting a piece of this popcorn in her mouth.
But she chewed, and then in the strangely coded and ambiguous fashion characteristic of Rose, she said,
“This tastes like something for eating.”
“And,” I prompted, “what do you think?”
She thought about it for a moment. “It’s like spicy crunch.”
“Which is good?”
“It is good,” she agreed. “It is very good.”
My heart leapt. I know that if it wasn’t good she very likely would have told me so, and thus I had to share my cheer.
“JOY TO THE WORLD! THE LORD IS COME! LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING!”
She didn’t like that.
Gochujang Soy Caramel Popcorn
This popcorn is the perfect blend of sweet and savory, and though Rose’s review might leave you with some doubt, another friend of mine ate a piece and remarked with some surprise that it made him “tingle in his happy place.” After Sarah tried it she spent a solid half-hour trying to figure out if we could sell it.
So it’s pretty darn good. And, in little individual baggies – or, you know, a two-foot tin – it would be a great addition to a Christmas or New Years gift!
- 12 cups of plain, unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn
- This is about 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. of unpopped popcorn (the ratio should be printed on the back of the bag)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
- 1/4 cup of gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce (we used tamari, which is a little less salty and a bit thicker than regular soy sauce, but either will work)
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Place popped popcorn into an oven safe baking dish. Make sure it has sides and there’s some room left; you’ll be stirring it in the container.
- Over medium-low heat, melt the butter in a pot or pan.
- Add the gochujang and whisk until combined.
- Whisk in the brown sugar 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated. Let the mixture simmer gently for about 2 minutes until the sugar is melted. If you lift the whisk from the pan, it should appear syrupy.
- Slowly whisk in the soy sauce, and then the baking soda. This will change the color and texture of the caramel, so don’t be alarmed!
- NOTE: Be very careful when adding the soy sauce. The mixture can bubble and spit.
- Carefully pour the mixture over the popcorn and fold until the popcorn is completely covered.
- Bake for fifteen minutes at 200 degrees, stir, bake for fifteen more minutes, then remove from the oven and stir again.
- Scoop the popcorn onto parchment paper in a single layer and let air-crisp for at least 30 minutes (though if you can’t resist, no one will blame you.)
- Prepare to be amazed.
To store, keep the popcorn in a cookie/popcorn tin or other covered container.