A new year means a fresh start and with that, comes the inevitable wave of exciting food and flavour trends. We're a few months into 2018 now and if you haven't already, now's as good a time as ever to introduce some of the hottest tastes to your diners. From vegetable-heavy dishes to hearty African cuisine, here are five of the best flavour trends for 2018.
The trends we'll be discussing are:
Food experts and professional chefs tipped that a flexitarian diet, which is eating more plant-based products than meat, will be all the rage this year. People aren't becoming entirely vegetarian (in fact, this trend has sometimes been called "vegetarianism with cheating") but they're now more willing than ever to cast aside some of their carnivorous ways by increasing their intake of plant-based products without completely eliminating meat.
Think lentils, beans, peas, nuts and seeds instead of meatballs, mince and beef burger patties. And when people do choose to eat meat, they're opting for high quality lean meat like turkey or chicken as opposed to processed meats like bacon and sausages.
Europe has an abundance of food waste. A 2016 report by Fusions EU found Europe wastes around €143 billion of food every year. But hopefully, we're about to see a decline in those figures as the nose to tail/root to shoot cooking technique is tipped to become more popular than ever in 2018 - particularly as people continue to become even more health and environmentally conscious.
So, instead of eating just the main meat of the animal or plant, chefs will be cooking up the whole thing which produces much less food wastage.
Prawn heads is an example. Instead of simply discarding them, consider offering whole prawns in your dishes and allow diners to disassemble them before eating. Or, you can use the heads to make prawn oils or seafood stock to enhance your paellas, pastas, sauces and soups.
Food and beverage trend reports listed floral flavourings as one of the flavour trends set to take the culinary scene by storm. From floral infused teas and cocktails to botanical hints in baked goods, floral infusions can take your dishes and drinks from ordinary to memorable.
Flowery notes like rose, lavender and hibiscus were tipped to be big players while thyme, basil and rosemary can add a deliciously savoury edge to your creations. Plus, they're a fantastic way to chase Instagram likes.
Favoured by the foodies and Instagram lovers, Japanese food has long been a trendy cuisine. But in 2018, it's less about ramen and sushi and more about izakaya bar food - also known as the Japanese 'dude food' that'll soon be cropping up around London and other major European hot spots.
Food served in izakayas, which are the Japanese equivalent of pubs and tapas bars, are meant to complement the beer, sake and spirits that are served there. So instead of miso soup and teriyaki chicken noodles, think deep-fried tofu in broth and yakitori meat sizzling on skewers. It's street food with an edge.
Cardamon, fennel seeds, harissa, dukkah - these are just a few of the spices you should be incorporating into your dishes this year. As people turn towards meat-less meals, more and more chefs and restaurants will be playing with different flavour profiles to keep dishes interesting. And this is where African cuisine comes in because of the hearty flavours and vegetable-rich dishes.
Tipped by Micheli-starred chefs and food trend consultancy firms to be a hot trend for 2018, African cuisine is a great way to introduce satisfying flavour explosions into your meals. And if you're apprehensive about the extent of your diners' palates but you still want to mix it up, consider easing the new spices to your dishes instead of using every trend and flavour combination at once.
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