Ethnic flavors of 2014: The new salt and pepper and the new quinoa

Friday, December 13th, 2013. Filed under: Destinations Holidays Home & Garden New Year's Day
Okonomiyaki ©gori910/


(Relaxnews) – Move over soy sauce, there’s a new umami-booster in town.

Though Asian food enthusiasts have long known about the flavor-boosting properties of fish sauce, the smelly but highly effective condiment is predicted to penetrate more and more restaurant kitchens including those that serve Western fare in the same way soy sauce has penetrated the mass market.

That’s one of the predictions of restaurant consultant Baum + Whiteman, whose annual trendspotting report is an influential forecast of food trends that will chart the culinary course of the following year.

Like soy sauce before it, the consultants predict that fish sauce will be used to lend umami to Western foods like roast chicken and grilled meats, for example.

Meanwhile, on the heels of a Sriracha sauce meltdown in which the largest manufacturer in the US, Huy Fong Foods, has been ordered to halt production, look for another Asian hot sauce to fill the void. Gochujang, a Korean hot bean paste made with chilis and fermented beans, for instance, is predicted to jump from bibimbap bowls to barbecue marinades.

A spicy Japanese seasoning made with sesame seeds, ginger, nori and hot peppers is also described as “the new salt and pepper,” and will also be used to flavor everything from chicken wings, salads and grilled fish, the report says.

If you’re not familiar with okonomiyaki, 2014 may be the year you make its acquaintance. The Japanese version of savory pancakes or pizza is a blank canvas for everything from seafoods, kimchi, pork belly, vegetables and even cheese, and is traditionally fried on griddles in front of the customer.

Mediterranean flavors from the Middle East will also get their day in the sun in 2014, predicts Baum + Whiteman. While za’atar and pomegranate molasses have made it onto mainstream supermarket shelves, look for other flavors and dishes to gain popularity.

A dish of eggs poached in a tomato, onion and pepper sauce spiked with chili and cumin is predicted to become a brunch staple on restaurant menus, while Muhammara from Syria — a sweet and fiery dip of tahini, peppers, walnuts and tomato paste — serves as an alternative to mainstream hummus.

And quinoa is so 2013. For trendy foodistas, whip up a batch of freekeh, toasted green wheat predicted to land on foodie radars in 2014.


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