Sichuan mala peanuts are one of the greatest junk foods in the world. We first encountered these in Beijing, at Great Leap Brewing. Luckily, we were able to find the product here in Vancouver. It looks like this:
But today, I discovered a new and totally awesome use for these Sichuan scraps: mala popcorn!
But I still needed the best binder to make those spicy bits coat the kernels.
We had some Sichuan peppercorn oil (pricklyash oil) in the fridge. It rarely gets used in our cooking, but here I finally found a perfect use for it.
Placing a few tablespoons in the special butter compartment of the air popper, the oil warms up while the kernels pop and then you can coat the popcorn with the aromatic scent of Sichuan peppercorn and chili. The mouth is delightfully numb and tingly after a few minutes of unbridled munching. Instant hit. And to think it all started at the bottom of the bag.
This would make a really good bar snack or nibble at a trendy Asian restaurant.