STOP RIGHT THERE. DO NOT TURN AROUND. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT EXIT OUT OF THIS POST. I know you want to. I can read your mind, and your mind is saying “anchovy popcorn?? what is this girl smoking? has she lost her taste buds? did she hit her head? what’s going on???” Take a deep breath and let’s play the trust game – you know that awful game you played at camp where you had to close your eyes and fall back into your campmates’ scrawny pre-teen arms? Yeah, that game. Welcome to the trust game: food blog edition.
I’m going to ask you to trust me that this popcorn is not as weird as it sounds. Is it different? Yes. Is it something I read about in a British newspaper when I was in Scotland last year? Sure. Is it gross, disgusting, unpleasing to the taste buds? Absolutely not. Do you have to like anchovies to like this dish? Maybe. Here’s the thing with anchovies, they are the umami of certain dishes. Ever wonder why caesar salads are so good? Anchovies. Is puttanesca your favorite pasta? Anchovies. I promise you that you are eating anchovies way more than you know. Maybe you don’t eat them whole, out of the can, and standing over the sink so the silky olive oil coating each ancho doesn’t drip on the floor (yep, that’s me), but unless you have a anchophobia or a severe dislike of fish, you should get on board with this popcorn. If not for me, do it for National Popcorn Day.
We’re not talking popcorn topped with little slimy fishes, we’re talking cooking the anchovies in olive oil until they have completely disintegrated and the olive oil is infused with a rich, salty flavor that becomes inexplicably addicting once it’s added to popcorn. I salivate just thinking about it. I’m also an ancho addict. Hi, my name’s Michelle, and I’m addicted to anchovies (and popcorn). Honestly, after you toss everything together, you can’t even see the sauce.
I haven’t let you in on the best part though. Popcorn is a great, healthy snack. Of course, popcorn becomes majorly unhealthy when you top it off with gobs of butter or, say, pork fat (who would do that??). But, plain popcorn is well, plain. Even a popcorn lover like myself thinks it needs a little something-something. So why not cover it in heart healthy fats instead of artery-clogging fats? In addition to the healthy heart benefits of olive oil, you get iron and omega-3 fatty acid benefits from the anchovies. Sure, tinned anchovies are very high in sodium, but that’s why we rinsed off some of that excess salt before we used them and refrained from adding additional salt to the popcorn. Problem solved. P.S. You can’t see the sauce, can you??
If you are an anchovy hater and just can’t do it, check out a few other ways to perk up your popcorn. Peanut butter and chocolate drizzle? I will be trying that next, thank you very much.
- 1 three-ounce bag of natural popcorn
- 10 anchovy fillets, rinsed and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus one tablespoon
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
- Pop the popcorn according to the instructions on the box. Empty the popcorn into a large bowl.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the anchovy fillets and gently simmer until the anchovies dissolve about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Take the pan off the heat and fold in the rosemary and the additional tablespoon olive oil. After 10 minutes of cooking, the olive oil mixture will have thickened up a bit and it will start to resemble sludge (appetizing, I know). The additional tablespoon of olive oil helps to thin out the mixture so you can more easily pour it over the popcorn.
- Pour the olive oil mixture over the popcorn and toss to coat evenly. Garnish with additional rosemary.