Thai Corn Chowder with Sriracha Popcorn Garnish

When I was in Seattle recently I ate at Michael Mina's RN74 and ordered the corn chowder.  It was poured for me tableside and in the bowl was some popcorn as garnish. I found that an interesting and sensible garnish, one I had not thought of doing before.  So I've taken that and twisted it into a Thai version.

For the Srirach popcorn might I suggest that you use coconut oil instead of butter?  This is how I now eat my popcorn because it is a healthier alternative than butter. For this recipe, I actually had about 1/4 of coconut oil left in a jar and so I just nuked the jar in the microwave to melt it to a liquid state and then added the sriracha, closed and shook the jar vigorously to mix the two together, and then used that to drizzle over the popcorn.  This is the first time I've made sriracha popcorn and I am now a fan.  It's important that you are able to vigorously shake the two in a container because trying to whip them together with a whisk was not enough to blend them.  The sriracha stayed in globules when I tried it that way.

As to popcorn, I have given up microwave popcorn and instead have a West Bend electric popcorn popper that I love. It will pop every single kernel and the texture is better than from the microwave.  I highly recommend it.

Sriracha Popcorn

1/2 cup of popcorn
1/4 cup of coconut oil, melted
1-2 tablespoons of sriracha
salt to taste

Pop a half a cup of popcorn kernels. While they are popping, place 1/4 cup of coconut oil in a sealable jar and heat in the microwave for about a minute until it is in a liquid state. (Some climates are hot enough that it will always be in a liquid state.)  Add the sriracha to the jar, seal it and shake vigorously.  Drizzle over popped popcorn.  Salt finished popcorn to taste.

Thai Corn Chowder

4 ears corn
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, smashed
8 black peppercorns
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into thirds (optional)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
8 fresh basil leaves
8 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
sriracha popcorn

Cut off the corn kernels; set aside. Combine the cobs, 1/2 cup scallions, 1 tablespoon ginger, the garlic, peppercorns and 5 cups water in a pot.  Smash the lemongrass, if using, and add to the pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the broth is finished, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a separate pot. Season with salt. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger and the jalapeno; cook 1 minute.  Add the corn kernels; cook until the vegetables are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Strain the broth, pressing out as much liquid as possible; discard the solids.  Add 2 cups of the strained broth to the corn; bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the coconut milk, basil and mint; season with salt. Stir until simmering.  Remove from the heat and add the cilantro and lime juice. Top with the sriracha popcorn and serve with lime wedges.