In the year ahead, Americans will explore flavors from around the globe, often in the same dish or dining experience, said Kevan Vetter, executive chef at McCormick & Co., Inc.
“Consumers are seeking out new global flavors and dishes, craving multiple tastes, tapas style, in one meal occasion and looking for communal dining experiences that offer customization,” Mr. Vetter said. “As a result, you’ll be seeing more handheld fare with global flavor fusions like a gyro-arepa hybrid sandwich, exploring restaurant dishes at home like Asian hot pot and Japanese izakaya bites and finding the next spicy flavor, which this year comes from East Africa.”
These trends are reflected in McCormick's latest Flavor Forecast, an annual report created by a global team of chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and food technologists. Previous predictions have included chipotle, coconut water, turmeric and Korean barbecue.
“For 2018, look to new eating experiences that invite sharing, are globally inspired and pack a flavorful punch,” Mr. Vetter said.
Five trends featured in McCormick’s 2018 Flavor Forecast include:
Street fare fusion
Food truck operators are combining global cuisines into a portable, palatable package. Such handheld hybrids may include a British banoffee pie bao, featuring bananas, cream, cinnamon and toffee, on a Chinese steamed bun. There’s also sizzling egg crepes, an Asian wrap that may be stuffed with regional American fillings, such as smoky pork, crisp slaw and sauce. Another mashup features arepas, a South American crispy corn cake, filled with Greek gyro meat and tzatziki sauce.
East African cuisine
Bold, spicy and citrusy flavors pop in East African inspired dishes, such as mishkaki, meat skewers marinated in a Tanzanian blend of lemon, tomatoes and green papaya, finished with curry, garlic, red pepper and ginger. Berbere, a popular Ethiopian seasoning, combines paprika, allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and red pepper, kicking up chicken stew, lentils and vegetables.
A taste of Japan
Furikake, a coarse blend of seaweed, sesame, dried seafood, sugar and salt, is a staple seasoning in Japan, adding umami-rich taste to Spanish tapas-style plates served in izakayas, Japanese gastropubs. Another popular snack is onigiri, rice balls stuffed with a flavorful filling, such as ginger and plum vinegar infused chicken.
Dandelion greens, ginger and turmeric bring a beneficial boost to beverages. A morning refresher may contain tart green apples, cucumbers, clementines and cayenne. For a p.m. pick-me-up, sip on a soup of oyster mushrooms, avocado, thyme and sage.
Hot pot gaining steam
The hot pot offers a host of possibilities, as an interactive opportunity to explore a world of flavor. A simmering pot of soup stock serves as the centerpiece, while an array of raw meat, seafood and vegetables may be added and cooked at the table.In a Puebla, Mexico-inspired hot pot, a chicken stock steeped with ancho chile, smoked paprika and spices may be served with chicken or pork, corn, avocado crema and fresh garnishes, while a West Indies hot pot may include spiced coconut milk broth with seafood, chile papaya pica sauce and plantain chips.