Crispy, crunchy, sweet, spicy, aromatic, and awesome! You know I'm a fan of the hyperbole, but it's with all sincerity that I say this may be the greatest caramel popcorn-related snack breakthrough since balls.


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1 cup chopped dry-roasted, salted peanuts
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sambal oelek chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro


1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Line baking sheet with foil brushed with vegetable oil or a silicone baking mat.
2. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add popcorn; cover and cook, shaking often, until fully popped, about 5 minutes. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl using a strainer or your hands, leaving unpopped kernels in the pan. Stir chopped peanuts into popcorn.
3. Combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add lime juice and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly stir in sambal oelek, lime zest, and baking soda. Pour brown sugar mixture over popcorn, stirring to coat. Spread popcorn out on the prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake in the preheated oven, tossing every 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and sticky, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool and become crispy. Toss with cilantro before serving.


Blech. At the very least it needs tamarind to taste kind of like Pad Thai, but best not to make this at all.


Chef John


8 cups