Going Global

Creative chefs looking to add zest and excitement to their menus are finding inspiration with seldom-used ethnic flavours.

Mongolian, guava and coriander topped Technomic’s MenuMonitor as fastest-growing flavours in 2015/16. For 2017, Technomic is forecasting that “newcomers from across the globe will bring with them exotic recipes and ingredients, spurring fresh inspiration for chefs. Looking at the year to come, specialties like Filipino pancit (noodles) and sinigang (soup), Pakistani roadside bun kebabs and Iranian gheimeh (stew) will flourish.”

One of the hottest trends continues to be Sriracha. Its spicy, sweet and savoury essence of Southeast Asian cuisine with a touch of heat awakens taste buds – and menus. Even McDonald’s is testing Sriracha. Prickly pear is a prominent ingredient in Mexican cooking, often found in salads and entrées. Piri piri is an African chili pepper that has been brought into the spotlight by Nando’s, Technomic reports.

Here are some other hot, hot, hot flavour trends and ways you can work with them on your menu:

Plancha and peppers

Espelette peppers come from the Basque Region of Spain. They are distinctively smoky, sweet and mildly hot – perfect as the lead flavour in a zesty rub with Mediterranean herbs to enhance grilled meats and seafood.

Chef Juriaan’s top tip

For a dazzling Basque-inspired Plancha grill, McCormick Canada executive corporate chef Juriaan Snellen suggests a zesty sandwich topping using Espelette pepper, finely chopped shallot, lime juice, lemon juice, sherry wine vinegar, mayo, salt and pepper.

Vivacious Verde

Mojo Verde is a vibrant Spanish green sauce with cumin, cilantro, parsley and green chilies. It can be used to add complex flavour profiles to starters, dips/condiments, and cocktails, and on the Plancha grill it comes alive.

Chef Juriaan’s top tip

Try some Mojo Verde on crispy potato chips, tortilla chips, or sweet potato fries; use it with guacamole; mix it with mayonnaise for a Spanish or Basque style dipping sauce or sandwich topping.

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Healthier Eating

Canadian diners are becoming more conscious of healthy eating habits, and they are looking to you for healthier menu items.

It’s no surprise that plant-based alternative ingredients are gaining in popularity, the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) reports. Flax seeds, hazelnuts and cashews are great sources of calcium and vitamins A, D and E with virtually no saturated fat or cholesterol. CHFA expects this to be a big year for mushrooms, sprouts, digestive enzymes and new and exciting carb foods made from fibre-rich beans.

Check out the complete CHFA 2017 Natural Health Trends Report at http://www.multivu.com/players/English/8006151-canadian-health-food-trends/docs/natural-health-trends-report-of-2017-1443853418.pdf

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A Versatile Condiment

Skhug Sauce is a popular Middle Eastern condiment that brings spice to the table in a hot sauce form. Traditional ingredients including cumin and cardamom combine with the heat of Thai bird chilies, freshly chopped herbs, olive oil and tangy lemon juice to create a versatile topping for many menu items.

Chef Juriaan’s top tip

Use Skhug sauce as a condiment for Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel and shawarma. Top hummus with Skhug sauce for added heat and flavour complexity. Mix Skhug sauce with reduced or non-fat Greek yogurt for a delicious low-fat dip or sauce for vegetables. Spoon some Skhug sauce into pasta dishes, soup and bean dishes to create deeper layers of flavor.

For more useful flavour ideas, and to get the most out of the McCormick® Flavour Forecast® 2017, visit http://www.clubhouseforchefs.ca