4 fruit-forward takes on global street food

Photograph courtesy of Dole Packaged Foods

Consumer interest in authentic global cuisines has helped spur the rise of street foods from around the world, and these items are increasingly appearing on menus everywhere from food trucks to fine-dining restaurants—and even noncommercial foodservice facilities.

Street foods also play into other current consumer trends, such as the interest in snacking as an alternative to traditional meals. Many street foods are offered in small portions that allow consumers to experiment with different flavors and ingredients at relatively low cost, and they can be ideal for sharing among groups, either as meals or appetizers.

Consumers in the 18-34 age group are especially interested in street foods, according to Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report. Three-fourths of these consumers (75%) said they would be at least somewhat interested in trying global dishes described as street foods, including 40% who said they strongly agree that they would be interested in doing so.

Authenticity is key for consumers when it comes to ethnic foods, with 44% saying they prefer completely authentic ethnic foods and flavors.

Fruits such as mangoes, peaches, berries and pineapples are often important components of authentic street foods. Their sweetness can complement the exotic spices used in many of these items, and they can also provide fresh flavors for desserts or sweet snacks.

Following are some examples of street foods that feature fruits in their ingredient mix:

  • Halo halo—Food from the Philippines is poised to become one of the next “trend-worthy” cuisines in the United States, according to Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report, and perhaps one of the most interesting street foods from the island chain is halo halo. Commonly described as a “mixed fruit” dessert, halo halo is made on a bed of shaved ice, topped with fruits such as pineapple, banana and berries, along with other toppings and a scoop of purple ube ice cream.
  • Tacos—A perennially popular street food, tacos can contain a variety of tropical fruits. Tacos al pastor traditionally combine pineapple with marinated, flame-grilled pork, but operators are also topping their tacos with papaya, mango and other fruits, sometimes in the form of sweet-and-spicy salsas. Brewpub chain Yard House recently added a Blackened Shrimp Street Taco, which includes cabbage, cilantro, cumin crema, pico de gallo, guacamole, mango and papaya.
  • Fruit-filled treats—Korean cuisine has also been gaining traction in the U.S., in part because of the country’s vibrant street food scene. One of the most popular street foods in Korea is the hotteok, a sweet, fried dessert pancake that can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including nuts, sesame paste, cinnamon, brown sugar, fruits and fruit paste. Similar street-food desserts include Chinese dim sum buns filled with peaches, for example, or Argentinian empanadas filled with combinations of bananas, berries and chocolate.
  • CondimentsTechnomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report notes that condiments are “arguably the easiest avenue for restaurant operators to experiment with and introduce new ethnic cuisines,” and these can often include fruit flavors. Among those that Technomic has identified as being poised to break out are Mexican chamoy, a fruit-based relish with salty, spicy ingredients, and Middle Eastern amba, a pickled mango relish.

All across the foodservice landscape, globally inspired street foods are taking the country by storm, and they are bringing sweet fruit flavors with them

This post is sponsored by Dole Packaged Foods

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