This recipe is a recreation of a traditional snack that I love in Indonesia made out of Paddy Oat Cracker or Melinjo Chips married with the traditional American Cracker Jack, to create a global taste of perfectly balanced sweet, salty, spicy, tart, and umami in one bite.
(Tamarind Lemongrass Chili Caramel Popcorn)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
6 cloves of garlic,
2 tbs salt
6 dried chilis
4 stalks of fresh lemongrass
2 tbs 100% pure tamarind pulp
6 tbs peanut oil
Additional salt to taste
Mash garlic in 2 tbs salt
Cut up lemongrass in 3” pieces, bruise to release the oil.
Heat up oil, sautee salted garlic & crushed dried chilies until fragrant. Add tamarind pulp and lemongrass pieces and continue to sautee until the fragrance of all the ingredients blend together. Set aside.
In a separate pan, cook water and sugar until color turns amber, reaching temperature of firm ball stage about 240-250 F.
Add sauteed spices to caramel and cook for another minute or two to extract the flavors.
Once cooked through, remove from heat. Pick out the lemongrass pieces to avoid having big chunks in the popcorn mixture.
Pour caramel over popcorn mixture. Mix thoroughly with two wooden spoons and add salt to taste.
Spread popcorn mixture on a cookie sheet, greased or with lined parchment paper, dry in the oven 175°F for 10-15 minutes checking frequently. Popcorn should be crisp, but avoid cooking too long and overcooking the sugar. Enjoy with beer like a pale ale.