Move over eggs and oatmeal, breakfast has merged with brunch to offer many more exciting options than ever before. Perhaps that’s why this segment is so hot and shows no signs of slowing down.
- Traditional morning meats like bacon and sausage are being joined by fried chicken, chorizo, smoked salmon, and a host of plant-based meat substitutes.
- Popular spots like Starbucks, Einstein’s, and Jack in the Box have introduced heartier sandwiches, adventurous bagels, and quiche wedges.
- Chia puddings (see photo at left), acai bowls, and Japanese porridges have also met growing demand—nutritious and topped with a variety of produce, these dishes are exceeding many customer expectations.
For a long time fusion food was frowned upon, but it’s recently made a serious comeback. Consumers are constantly seeking new, different, and unexpected dining experiences, so many chefs have embraced the “anything goes” mantra.
- Think you know burritos? Beans, rice, carne asada perhaps? Think again--today’s versions might be filled with anything from sushi, to tofu and peanut sauce, to falafel with tzatziki cucumbers.
- Nikkei cuisine uses Japanese cooking techniques with the indigenous ingredients of Peru. Popular dishes combine fresh fish, limes, corn, aji peppers, yucca, and Peruvian potatoes. This fusion cuisine is currently sweeping Europe and making its way across North America.
- Pastrami and sauerkraut aren’t just for reuben sandwiches...now they are being stuffed into egg rolls and deep fried.
- And for dessert? How about some banana-Nutella lasagna?
Meet the Jackfruit
You may not have heard of the jackfruit, but for the past year, this tropical meat substitute (yes—you read that right), has been blowing up on vegan and vegetarian menus throughout North America.
- The flesh is starchy and fibrous; the flavor tastes mildly of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana.
- Its particular texture when unripe and cooked properly, mimics pulled pork; add barbecue sauce and it’s an uncanny meat replacement.
- The ripe fruit can be added to curries, salsas, and desserts like halo-halo and custards; even the seeds can be roasted and eaten.
Seaweed, kelp, nori, dulse...scientists and nutritionists are learning new and exciting things about sea vegetables every day. This group of plants is being touted as the newest of super foods—packed with iron, iodine, vitamin C, protein, manganese, B vitamins, and a host of antioxidants. Chefs are expanding their knowledge as well and including these unique flavors and textures in menus other than traditional Japanese.
- Asian countries have consumed algae and seaweed-based foods for thousands of years; Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand, and many more global cuisines have treasured these ingredients as well.
- Nori (dried seaweed sheets) is well known in sushi, but is now becoming a popular way to add umami to poke bowls, salads, even popcorn!
- Seabeans, or salicornia, can be prepared much like green beans; just be sure to rinse them thoroughly, as they can be extremely salty.
- Gluten-free customers are hopping on the kelp noodle bandwagon—they are versatile, low in calories, and nutritious. The green type taste like sea water, while the clear are more neutral.
Flan, churros, tres leches cakes...certain recipes pervade menus from Mexico to South America to Spain. Yet there are so many other, more adventurous desserts across the Spanish-speaking world that North American chefs are now discovering and sharing with their customers.
- The Peruvian suspiro limeño layers caramel with peaks of Italian meringue; modern versions add additional layers of passion fruit, lime curd, or diced mango.
- Uruguyan chaya is sponge cake soaked in rum and peach syrup, then topped with peaches, baked meringue, and whipped cream.
- Dulce de guayabana (a sweet and sour guava paste) can be used as a dessert or to create balance on cheese plates—great with wines!
- Columbian plantanos calados are sliced plantains simmered in brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice until a thick paste forms—a great bar snack!
- Espumillas (little foams) are a street food favorite in Ecuador; they look like ice cream cones, but the filling is actually meringue mixed with sweet guava pulp.
Whether sweet or tart, apples make an excellent raw snack or delicious dessert (think classic pies), but this fall they are showing up on different areas of the menu: the savory side.
- Pickled Fuji apple slices unite the disparate flavors of earthy duck confit and rich Brie cheese for a French-inspired sandwich.
- The sweetness of Red Delicious apple and carrot slivers balances the bitterness of raw bok choy; toss with quinoa and a gingery vinaigrette for a salad that traverses the flavor and texture spectrum (see photo at left).
- Lend sweetness to Butternut squash, parsnip, or potato soups with a roasted apple-walnut garnish.
- Challenge the typical flatbread and pizza offerings by topping crusts with chunks of tart Granny Smith apples, pungent blue cheese, and crumbled chicken sausage.
- Move savory waffles and pancakes beyond trendy fried chicken; top with roasted Golden Delicious apple and Kabocha squash chunks; drizzle with sage-infused syrup.
- Spice up grilled steaks and chops with a fiery-sweet jalapeno-Fuji apple chutney. Pairs well with Indian food as well.
- Add something healthy to pulled pork and barbecued beef sandwiches; top them with a vinegar-based, shredded kale-Granny Smith apple slaw.
- Bread service is thriving—why not offer the non-dairy, vegan option of apple butter?