Modern Asian flavors are trending

TETERBORO, NJ. — The spicy, sweet and bitter flavors of Korean cuisine are showing up in traditional American barbecue dishes. Japanese ingredients like miso add a new twist to familiar dishes like roast meats. Indian toppings are making an appearance on pizzas made with naan bread crust.

This multicultural experimentation is part of the “modern Asian” movement that Symrise has identified as a key trend for 2022.

“Asian cuisine is no longer very much specified by cuisine or country,” said Emmanuel Laroche, vice president of marketing and consumer insights at Symrise, who plans to share his comprehensive trend predictions at a next webinar on February 2. used throughout the landscape. Everything is blurry now. »

With their penchant for bold flavors, Gen Z consumers are a driving force behind the modern Asian trend, added Dylan Thompson, senior director of marketing and consumer insights for Symrise’s flavor division.

“This whole idea of ​​multiculturalism is mainstream for Gen Z,” he said. “They don’t see things like ‘this is Asian’ and ‘this is African’. It’s just, ‘It’s the fresh flavors that I like.’ They are not as concerned about where these flavors come from.

Food and beverage makers are taking notice, blending ingredients from one culture with cooking techniques and flavors from others. Achara, a Filipino pickle made from grated unripe papaya, and gochujang, a spicy and sweet fermented condiment popular in Korean cuisine, are among the flavors and ingredients that cross cultural and culinary boundaries.

Sixty-five percent of kitchen professionals surveyed by Symrise currently use or plan to use kokuto. Also known as Okinawa brown sugar, the ingredient is prized in Japan for its deep flavor and healthy aura.

“Calling kokuto a healthier alternative is something quite new,” Mr. Thompson said. “It’s less processed than normal sugar, so it’s used in dessert-type products to make them a little better for you. It is also used in savory where you can use brown sugar to sweeten a dish.

Other Japanese ingredients like matcha and sesame are popping up in desserts, with ice cream and frozen novelties emerging as a nexus for exploring Asian flavors.

“We think ice cream sandwiches are very American, but now we see ice cream sandwiches with turmeric or calamansi or pandan,” Mr. Thompson said. “Normal ice cream parlors offer flavors from all over the world.”

Nikkei in the spotlight

The modern Asian trend extends beyond typical American dishes. Dishes that blend different Asian cuisines with ingredients and flavors from diverse cultures are starting to appear on restaurant menus, according to Symrise.

Mr. Laroche highlighted the rise of Nikkei cuisine, or Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, in the United States. The distinct cuisine was developed over generations by the descendants of Japanese immigrants who arrived in Peru in the late 19th century.

“It was a very strong and important immigration that changed some of the ways of cooking of the Peruvian chefs,” said Mr. Laroche.

Nikkei food mixes Peruvian ingredients such as Amazonian fish, quinoa and aji pepper with Japanese cooking techniques. One example is tiradito, which combines elements of ceviche, a traditional Peruvian seafood dish, with sashimi, a Japanese delicacy consisting of thinly sliced ​​raw meat.

“Ceviche was prepared in a certain way by Peruvians, but with the influence of cutting and seasoning sashimi fish, it turned into a tiradito,” Laroche said. “There are people who migrated from Peru to America – many of them first generation – who have this unique background where their family has both Peruvian and Japanese influences, so now we’re starting to see Nikkei cuisine do its way to the United States.”

Symrise sees Nikkei foods appear on restaurant menus in the form of leche de tigre, a spicy marinade used to cure raw fish, which also serves as a base for spiced drinks and cocktails. Other examples include spicy potato dishes and main courses combining Peruvian-style protein with ingredients like wakame seaweed.

The exploration of flavors is accelerating

Startups and digital native brands are also driving flavor exploration, with the crispy chili emerging as one of the early stars of the modern Asian movement.

“Traditionally, it all starts with fine dining,” Mr. Thompson said. “Now you have all these small startups bringing products to market pretty quickly. Crispy chili was never popular in the food industry, but quickly made its way into the retail trade. »

The spicy chunk sauce has been popular in China for decades. Today, it heats up dishes around the world, thanks to brands like New York-based Momofuku. The company’s Chili Crunch condiment is a spicy, crunchy oil made with three types of Mexican chili peppers plus garlic, shallots and coconut sugar for a touch of sweetness.

Los Angeles-based Fly By Jing offers Sichuan Chili Crisp, a spicy and savory condiment made with three types of dried chili pepper, Sichuan pepper, adaptogenic mushrooms, ginger, seaweed, spices and chunks of fermented black beans. The sauce adds zest to everything from pizza and noodles to dumplings and ice cream, according to the company.

Brands like Momofuku and Fly By Jing are leveraging the digital shelf to help consumers discover new flavors faster than ever, Thompson said.

“We saw something similar last year with people searching online for alternative sweeteners, but in this case it was different types of sauces,” he said. “People are looking for something different that they can experience at home, and they’re not necessarily waiting to try it in the restaurant business.”

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