Togarashi Caramel Popcorn

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Nanami togarashi is a Japanese chili and spice mix which is sold in most Asian stores. It contains chili pepper, orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed. It is a really balanced spice mixture.  I normally use it when I make sushi.

This recipe is very addictive.  It’s not very spicy, it just has a bit of a kick. You can always add more togarashi if you like it really spicy. Baking soda is not something you find in regular supermarkets here in the Netherlands, but luckily enough Asian stores do have it. Baking soda makes the caramel airy and foamy. The air bubbles that form give the caramel a softer texture.


2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

½ cup popcorn kernels

¾ cup of sugar

3 tablespoons of butter

¼ teaspoon of salt

1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda

½ teaspoon of Nanami Togarashi (or more to taste)

¾ cup of water


Brush a large bowl and two wooden spoons or rubber spatulas with vegetable oil (you can also use cooking spray).  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn, cover and keep the pan moving until all the kernels have popped. Transfer to the greased bowl. Remove any unpopped kernel.

In a small bowl, mix the baking soda with the togarashi.

In a medium pan, combine the butter, sugar, salt and ¾ cup of water. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture becomes a light golden color, about 10 minutes. Stir constantly.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda-togarashi mixture.  The baking soda will make the mixture bubble up.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and working very quickly, mix it all through.

Spread the popcorn into the baking sheets and try to separate them as much as you can.  Allow to cool at room temperature. Once cooled, you can break them apart if the chunks are too big. You can also store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


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