Flavor Trends Forecast More Global Fare, Spicy Breakfasts, African, Japanese Influences

Dec. 14, 2017
In the coming year, Americans will explore flavors from around the globe, often in the same dish or dining experience.

McCormick & Co., Hunt Valley, Md., has identified top trends and ingredients shaping the future of flavor in its annual Flavor Forecast report. The company looks at the latest ingredients, cooking techniques and culinary ideas driving what’s next in flavor at restaurants, on retail shelves and in home kitchens. The global spin this year is on breakfast, the sizzling tastes of Plancha (griddle) grilling, with egg yolks infused with savory flavors, as well as the new Mediterranean cuisine and the next wave of spicy flavors.

In the coming year, Americans will explore flavors from around the globe, often in the same dish or dining experience, predicts Kevan Vetter, executive chef at McCormick. “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," he says. "You’ll be seeing more hand-held fare with global flavor fusions like a gyro-arepa hybrid sandwich, exploring restaurant dishes at home like Asian hot pot and Japanese izakaya [pub fare] bites and finding the next spicy flavor, which this year comes from East Africa.”

The 2018 Flavor Forecast is 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, new eating experiences invite sharing, are globally inspired and pack a flavorful punch,” Vetter says. “A steamy pot of spiced broth is the centerpiece of an Asian hot pot cooking party. Meat, seafood and veggies are offered for dunking, then scooped out and topped with various sauces and fresh garnishes. Change up the ingredients to make it a Mexican or West Indies hot pot next time.”

Here are some of the big trends featured in the forecast: 

Street fare fusion: Flavors fusing global cuisines from food carts, trucks and halls are merging bold fillings with unique crepes, buns and breads for loaded street fare eaten hand-held.

Sizzling Egg Crepes: Called jianbing in China and dan bing in Taiwan, these thin pancakes are griddled, filled and rolled up like a burrito. Stuff these Asian wraps with regional American tastes like smoky pork, crisp slaw and tangy sauce for a Southern twist.

Gyros meet Arepas: Arepas are the taco-sandwich hybrid you must try. Split and fill these crispy corn cakes with sliced meat, veggies and spicy tzatziki sauce–it’s a blissful union of the best tastes and textures South America and Greece have to offer.  Dessert Bao Buns: In China, these soft, steamed buns are typically served up savory, but, with a simple dough and classic pie fillings, can be transformed into a hand-held dessert in the style of a British banoffee pie bao with bananas, cream, cinnamon and toffee.

A bite of East Africa – East African cuisine is a treasure trove of flavor. The signature seasonings, BBQ marinades and sauces of Tanzania and Ethiopia are being explored across the globe.

Berbere spice blends: Ethiopia’s most popular seasoning contains an array of spices like paprika, allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and red pepper. Its hot, sweet and citrusy flavor lends richness to whatever it touches, whether rubbed on meats, stirred into soups and stews, or sprinkled onto lentils and veggies.

Tanzanian BBQ: Meat skewers, called mishkaki, are similar to shish kebabs. The traditional marinade blends lemon, tomatoes and green papaya to tenderize the meat, while curry, garlic, red pepper and ginger add bold flavor.

Japanese Izakaya Eats – Move over, sushi. At Izakayas–Japanese gastropubs–casual tasting plates serve fare similar to Spanish tapas. Featuring bold glazes, seaweed seasonings and tangy dipping sauces, these dishes are an explosion of flavor.
Miso Sake Yakitori Glaze: This tangy, sweet and savory sauce adds excitement to grilled chicken and seafood skewers. Brush on to instantly impress dinner guests with a distinctive char and bright, glossy look.

Furikake seasoning: In Japan, furikake is sprinkled on everything from rice and noodles to veggies and seafood. It's a coarse mixture of seaweed, sesame, dried seafood, sugar and salt offers umami deliciousness and a subtle, sweet flavor.
Onigiri– stuffed rice balls, filled with flavorful goodness and served in almost every izakaya in Japan. Stuff them with ginger & plum vinegar-infused chicken for a sweet, zesty snack.

Drink to wellness – Wellness never tasted so good. Breakfast boosts, snacking soups and end-of-day sips feature robust flavors and uplifting ingredients like cucumber, dandelion greens, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Awaken, stay energized, rebalance and above all, enjoy.

A morning jumpstart can mean swapping coffee with a wake-up call packed with tart green apples, refreshing cucumbers, tangy-sweet clementines and a bold kick of cayenne. Afternoon drinkable soup of oyster mushrooms, avocado, thyme and sage provide a satisfying flavor for the ultimate pick-me-up.

An evening elixir can rebalance after a busy day. For the ultimate replenishing mocktail, muddle fresh pineapple with ginger, turmeric and dandelion greens, then top with a splash of sparkling water.

More details on the Flavor Forecast of 2018, including recipes and tips for tasting them can be found at www.flavorforecast.com.