Whether it’s a little-known foraged ingredient from half-way across the world, or an innovation stemming from food-truck experimentation closer to home, keeping on top of on-trend ingredients is vital for keeping our food and our menus fresh, current and relevant.
At Flavour Feed, our food-and-drink trends platform and sister company, reporting from the forefront of ingredients innovation is one of our hard and fast duties, and our latest reports have thrown up some compelling themes and parallels we’re keen to discuss.
Health and wellness is a major feature and contributing factor to most modern ingredient’s success. Modern consumers want food that can add value and variety to diets, provide fuel, and, perhaps above all, make us feel amazing. Enter broccoli sprouts, containing up to 50 times the amount of the cancer-fighting antioxidant ingredient sulforaphane compared to mature broccoli, and new to the Western world, nutrient and protein-packed ancient grains like African fonio and sorghum… providing welcome alternatives to tired-out quinoa.
Photo credit: Farafena
Ancient grains aren’t the only foods from Africa to enter the culinary limelight, as woody, sultry voatsiperifery pepper from Madagascar comes into the frame, as it is embraced from Swiss gin makers to London chocolatiers and innovating NY chefs.
Health and wellness and the plant-based conversation make natural companions, with Flavour Feed flagging the vegan-friendly meat substitutes tempeh, a very traditional, fermented soy product from Indonesia, and yuba, tofu skin, a natural byproduct of the tofu-making process, as ingredients that are ripe for experimentation, and ones to keep a keen eye on. And in closer physical relation to animal byproducts, Filipino sea grapes and Australian finger limes have firmly caught our attention, as these colourful seaweed and fruit products remind us so vividly (and delightfully) of luxury staple caviar.
In an important cultural development on the plant-based argument, earlier this spring saw British comedian Simon Amstell’s vegan mockumentary Carnage hit the BBC, which served to hilariously and poignantly observe a vegan future in contrast to the meat-eating habits of today. Will this be a turning point in plant-based eating in the UK? It’s too early to tell, but being given such a space in mainstream media is a clear cultural signifier.
But it’s not all veganism and virtue, as MSG-charged Japanese mayonnaise Kewpie wins over the loyalty of influential chefs with its intensely rich, sweet taste, achieved by combining rice vinegar and egg yolks, instead of the whites. A sauce being lapped up from its native Japan to Melbourne and New York, and led, perhaps, by Korean-American chef David Chang and his some 700K Instagram followers.
Healthy, sustainable, Instagrammable and born from in-vogue global cuisines… we’ve hand-picked a few recent ingredient stories from Flavour Feed that we think have serious potential. Check out snippets of these below – and happy innovating.
Photo credit: The Lime Caviar Company
The finger lime is a small, elongated, gherkin-like fruit and, although not a true variety of citrus, is packed with tiny, translucent, globular juice vessels that have an acidic, citrusy flavour when bitten into. Often marketed as lime caviar, for obvious reasons, it not only tastes wonderful, but also grows naturally in a range of vivid colours from red and green to yellow and pink – all characteristics that are driving an international interest in the fruit as a unique ingredient.
Like most peppers, it comes in three colours – green, white and black – depending on at which stage of the ripening process it is at, but is usually sold as black, the colour it takes on once dried. When ground, its flavour is subtle yet heady, full of woody, earthy notes, with a mildly hot, distinctly light and zesty, citrus-like finish. It lifts savoury dishes such as rich, oily fish and pork, pairs well with fruits and also acts as a foil to sugar, making it a great addition to desserts. Thanks to this uniquely aromatic flavour profile, it is now being discovered and exploited by a small group of Western chefs and food-and-drink producers.
Photo credit: Mash Purveyors
Hot on our radar this week is the sea grape, also known as green caviar, and fabled for its distinctive popping sensation when eaten. Common to coastal regions in the Indo-Pacific such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan, and in season from May to October, sea grapes are often served simply, tossed in vinegar. Filipino dishes include the ensaladang lato, a salad with fresh tomatoes and chopped shallots, doused in fish sauce, then finished with succulent and yielding grapes to bring a refreshing deep-sea taste.
TO DISCOVER MORE AND SUBSCRIBE: http://flavourfeed.com