Embracing New Flavors and Cuisines
The sharing of food has brought people together since the beginning of time. Food connects people and transcends all, exposing different cultures, histories, and customs. As consumers continue to embrace new ethnic foods and cuisines, we’ve taken a look at some of the latest trends to inspire new menu offerings and unique experiences.
Asian cuisine has captured consumers’ taste buds, prompting an appetite for spicy, pickled, exotic and sweet-heat flavors. That’s why the NRA’s 2023 “What’s Hot Culinary Forecast” lists Southeast Asian cuisine as the top global flavor trend. Vietnamese, Filipino, and Singaporean cuisine take advantage of the bounty of their region and unique local ingredients to bring complex flavors to their dishes.
Vietnamese cuisine emphasizes the balance of flavor, between hot, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter as well as the balance of hot and cold foods. Traditional recipes incorporate a variety of fresh herbs, spices and aromatics including cilantro, mint, chili, ginger, cinnamon, and lemongrass and are considered essential to many dishes. Fish sauce, made from fermented anchovies and salt, is used extensively to season dishes and add simultaneously sweet and salty flavors to food. While not as well-known as other Asian foods, Filipino cuisine is distinguished by its bold combination of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Cooking with souring agents, like different vinegars, evolved for taste and necessity, as it helped preserve food in the warm tropical climate. Calamansi (Phillipine lemon), tamarind, coconuts and fish sauce are also common ingredients in Filipino recipes. Several of these items can be found at Sysco’s specialty company, European Imports. While most Asian cultures are rice or noodle focused, in Singapore they’re both. Dishes are usually based on a foundation of spicy, fishy sambal, sour herbs and/or complex citrus flavors. Spices including ginger, pepper, chile pastes, along with tropical fruits like durian, lychee, calamansi limes, coconut and curry leaves figure heavily into some of the country’s most iconic dishes.
Emerging flavors and ingredients include salsa macha, a trendy nutty salsa made with a rich chili oil from Veracruz, Mexico. Mangonada is a bold, delicious Mexican sorbet made with mango, chili powder and chamoy, delivering a sweet, salty, spicy, and tart flavor all in one bite. Yuzu is an aromatic East Asian citrus fruit with a strong fragrance that is traditionally used in ponzu sauce and growing on mainstream menus. The distant cousin to hot honey, spicy maple also brings a delicious dose of sweet heat to the table.