3 global flavors making waves on menus
Diners are becoming more adventurous with their eating habits and increasingly demanding more global flavors on menus. In fact, about a third of consumers (31%) would like to see more ethnic foods when they go out to eat, according to Technomic’s 2016 Generational Consumer Trend Report.
Ethnic sauces and spices are easy global flavor adds: They can serve as the flavor foundation of a dish, differentiate any item with a simple dollop or pinch and provide customizable options. Here are three global sauces and spices trending across multiple segments.
African specialties heat up
With African cuisines trending, more restaurants are adopting specialties from across the continent. Harissa is one ingredient that can stand in for most hot sauces. Up 20.5% on menus, according to Technomic MenuMonitor data, the Tunisian sauce has been applied to everything from salads to sandwiches to center-of-the-plate proteins. Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters serves seared seabass with green harissa in its on-campus employee cafeteria.
Berbere is another trending African ingredient on menus. Up 57.1%, the Ethiopian spice blend—which contains garlic, red pepper, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek and other spices—can be made in-house and is often featured in stews and soups or as a rub. At the Magic Kingdom’s concessions at Walt Disney World, $28 lamb chops are spiced with berbere.
Southeast Asia gets saucy
Southeast Asian specialties have been prevalent in recent years, thanks to the booming popularity of Sriracha. A mainstream staple across foodservice sectors, Sriracha appears on college, recreation and healthcare menus, such as the Honey Sriracha Chicken served at the cafeteria in Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton, Ark.
Sambal (up 13.3%) is another Southeast Asian condiment that has inundated menus as of late. The condiment combines chilies, brown sugar, salt and other ingredients. University of Georgia in Athens is one of many noncommercial facilities that understands sambal’s multipurpose nature, serving it at its dining halls’ condiment stations.
Arguably one of the hottest global trends in foodservice right now, Filipino specialties are increasingly becoming part of the menu mix, and banana ketchup is one ingredient with a lot of potential. The sauce, which combines mashed banana, sugar, vinegar and spices, has been featured on everything from burgers to ribs to a side dipping sauce, such as the banana ketchup condiment for fries at Sputnik restaurant in Denver.
Chilis: The spotlight of East Asia
Some spices and sauces from East Asia have recently blossomed as trends. Gochujang is the fastest-growing sauce on menus, up 128.6% from the same quarter of 2016. The Korean sauce is made with fermented soybeans, dried chilies, garlic and other seasonings. It’s started to trend in Top 500 chains, including Bruegger’s Bagels and Houlihan’s, but noncoms are getting on board as of late: St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena, Mont., serves gochujang in a barbecue sauce marinade.
Up 8.1% on menus, togarashi is a Japanese spice mixture of red chilies, sesame seeds, orange peel and ginger. At the cafe at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, a $14 Lemongrass and Ginger Poached Prawn Salad features togarashi.