Is there anything this mighty multi-tasker can't do?
A while back when I stumbled across Alton Brown's amazing video showing how to make popcorn in a mixing bowl, I read a comment that suggested you could also make popcorn in a wok. It seemed to make sense, because the bowl and the wok both have the sloped shape that makes the oil and kernels pool at the bottom while the popped corn rises to the top.
I always make popcorn on the stove in a heavy pot that I have to shake, shake, shake, so I decided to put the wok method to the test, and guess what? It really worked!
Popcorn in a Wok
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1) Pour about 2 tablespoons oil into a cold wok. Use something that can take high heat. I used canola oil for one batch and bacon grease for another (because bacon), but I'm going to try this with coconut oil next time.
2) Add 1/2 cup popcorn. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of regular table salt.
3) Cover with a splatter screen to vent the steam. In an ideal world, the splatter screen would be large enough to cover the wok. As you can see, mine was a bit smaller, which allowed a few popping kernels to escape. But it wasn't the end of the world.
4) Turn the heat to medium high and wait for it...
It takes a few minutes to get going, but then it's pop pop pop.
I gave the wok a little shake once in a while to coax the kernels to the center, but I'm not really sure I had to do that. It's just that I'm used to vigorously shaking the pot when I make popcorn on the stove to keep it from scorching. Old habits die hard, right?
After the popping slowed down to nothing, I turned off the heat, melted some butter right in the hot wok, and tossed the popcorn around a bit.
The residual heat from wok made the butter sizzle. Mmmmm butter.
True, there were a few more unpopped kernels at the bottom of my wok than I usually get when I make popcorn in a standard pot. But on the plus side, the popcorn didn't scorch even though I didn't shake the pan very much.
As a result, I'm officially adding popcorn to the long list of things my wok can rock.