So Long, Sriracha?
Rare is the food trend that’s actually new—just ask those in Southeast Asia who have been dousing their food in Sriracha for generations. In fact, unless we begin discovering entirely new plants and animals, the latest food trends will always be found by exploring the underexposed or long-forgotten.
The latest Flavor Forecast from McCormick & Co. identifies among its big menu trends of the year familiar ingredients used in new ways, untapped ethnic ideas and better-for-you benefits.
Malaysia and the Philippines inspire the trend toward tropical Asian flavors, which deliver bold and vibrant dishes. Seek out menu ideas such as pinoy barbecue from the Philippines, a popular street food of grilled pork skewers marinated in various spices and banana ketchup. (Go ahead—take a break and Google it. You’ll thank me.)
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has declared this year the International Year of Pulses.
The combination of heat and tang is another flavor trend that made McCormick’s list. Consider balancing the spice of chilies with acidic ingredients such as citrus or vinegar. Peru’s iconic pollo à la brasa comes with a vibrant sauce of chilies and lime. In Southeast Asia, potential next-big-condiment sambal features chilies, rice vinegar, sugar and garlic.
On the health front, operators are turning to pulses—dried peas, beans and lentils—for a meat-free protein source. McCormick also identifies “blends with benefits” as a big menu trend, delivering added health perks by adding flavorful herbs and spices to good-for-you ingredients: matcha green tea with ginger and citrus; thyme and rosemary with flaxseed; and limes, chilies and garlic with chia seeds.
McCormick also anticipates a return to ancestral flavors as operators reconnect with native ingredients such as the nutty amaranth grain and even ancient herbs such as lavender and peppermint.
Consider ways to incorporate these flavors into your menu—or do one better and search the archives of food culture for the next big thing yourself.