Popcorn and Caviar

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Serves: 8
  • Level: easy

Mr WDC
This may seem a little 'left field' or a crazy culinary ruse - but in fact it is grounded very objectively into our family's Thanksgiving story...

What you need

Lumpfish caviar – or the real stuff

Popping maize

Sunflower or groundnut oil

Cream cheese

Mayonnaise

Pepper

 



Dad's Recipe Tales

It may be a surprise that I created one of my whackiest culinary creations for a Thanksgiving dinner. Not that American Thanksgiving dinners do not already come with their own weird food offerings, such as jellow and marshmallows. See my article on Thanksgiving Dinner.

Our mother loved Thanksgiving. Modern interpretations of Thanksgiving reflect a more realistic analysis of the true sequence of events and provide a more balanced view of all sides of the story. But for my mother, the traditional version of the story was true and good and locked in stone. Each year at Thanksgiving, with a full table seated and ready to eat – before grace –  she would recite the Thanksgiving story in great detail. This included the catastrophic failure and hardships of the first harvest – represented at each setting bya a little muffin case full of 13 grains of popping maize (all the settlers had to eat on the first Thanksgiving). She continued to tell us that happily the Native American Indians make friends with the settlers and taught them how to plant corn seed with fish (to act as a fertilizer) and this lead to the bounty of the second harvest, which is celebrated to this day by Americans everywhere on Thanksgiving day.

We didn’t mind waiting for the story – or even hearing it for the umpteenth time – mom was a brilliant story-teller. But I could never really understand the point of the dried corn seed on the table – inevitably we would end up trying to eat it or build little trebuchets to send the seeds to the other side of the table. I therefore decided to dispense with the 13 grains and instead combine the ideas of both corn and the fish into a new ‘fish&corn’ starter. Early years were easy – clam chowder and corn bread, fish taco (on corn tortilla) – but then I thought hmmm, I wonder is popcorn and caviar would go together….

It does…

 

 

 

How Dad Cooked It

There is a fascinating bit of food science going on here. Popcorn and caviar certainly can be eaten together, but this would be rather like eating caviar right on top of a blini. You really need a conduit, a carrier to transfer the flavour from one part to the other parts. In the case of a blini it is normally cream cheese – the same principle is used in the Jewish treat of lox and cream. In both cases the salty fish is enhanced and balanced by the creamy dairy and transfered to the more neutral blini or bagel. For popcorn the conduit needs to be squeezed or drizzled over the popcorn and is mixed with mayonnaise.

  1. Combine equal amounts of cheese and mayonnaise, a little ground pepper, and whisk until very smooth, if necessary loosen with a little milk. Transfer to s squeezy bottle or piping bag or self-made piping bag.
  2. Put a very thin layer of sunflower or groundnut oil in a pan with lid. Heat until very hot – but not smoking – and scatter maize into the pan so that only about half the surface of the pan base is covered. (You need much less than you think!) Shake the pan, the corn will start to pop – keep shaking until the popping stops.
  3. Put the corn into little cups. If you can, paint stripes on paper cups with a yellow POSCA pen – it helps to jolly things along. Then squeeze the cream/mayo mix over the popcorn and scatter the caviar over. Eat with little forks.
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