We’re more glued to cuisine in the age of social media – all thanks to 45-second quick recipes and Instagram-worthy food shots. Hey, even a Michelin-starred chef like Alain Ducasse has an active Facebook account that affords insights into some of his culinary secrets. Kiss goodbye to the days of poring through food magazines to find out what’s modish to cook or eat. But what really shapes our palate for 2018? We peer into the crystal ball to find out the future of food trends and trendy ingredients that some tastemakers are deploying on their plates.
It starts with eating whole foods without any processing and ingredients are cooked minimally such as through blanching, or eaten raw.
This has become one of the biggest food trends to follow. It starts with eating whole foods without any processing (i.e. anything rehashed or refined), and ingredients are cooked minimally such as through blanching, or eaten raw. While it may be challenging to adopt clean eating when eating out, some restaurants such as Saint Pierre have begun to embrace the concept.
“I lead a clean eating lifestyle at home but for my restaurant, the ‘clean’ part comes from the ingredients: sustainable, seasonal and organic as possible,” enthuses chef and owner of Saint Pierre, Emmanuel Stroobant. ‘Monaco’ offers a green sauce made from bear’s garlic where organic zucchini, tomato confit, and peppers dot its circular plating; ‘Season’ offers autumnal pickings such as heirloom carrots, baby white radish, baby corn, snow pea, broad beans, sprouted chickpea, Japanese Momotaro tomato, and white and green asparagus, which sit on a beetroot paste.
At Black Swan the charge for clean eating is led by the simple cauliflower: “We introduced roasted cauliflower that has been sous vide then pan-roasted, finished in brown butter sauce. Maiitake mushrooms and crunchy hazelnuts complete the whole dish,” says Daniel Sia, culinary director of Lo & Behold Group.
Kirk Westaway, chef de cuisine at Jaan, Swissôtel The Stamford adds, “Meals are becoming lighter, healthier and more nutritionally well-balanced, with consumers becoming more aware of what they are putting in their bodies. My Majestic Oyster sums up my clean eating philosophy – fresh, wholesome Irish rock oysters where its intense, salty-sweet flavour pairs with pickled cucumbers and cucumber foam then dressed with pomelo, grey shallot ponzu and topped with a gold leaf.”
Nootropics may not be a household name yet, but they’re slowly gaining recognition as compounds that enhance brain function and improve memory.
Nootropics may not be a household name yet, but they’re slowly gaining recognition as compounds that enhance brain function and improve memory; foods such as eggs, fish, herbs, dark leafy greens, coffee, dark chocolate, blueberries. Even phytochemicals contained in turmeric, green tea, ginger, lemon juice, and rosemary can help to prevent the onset of the diabetes of the brain – Alzheimer’s disease.
The trio of oils – olive, fish and coconut – are also proponents to help combat this disease. Brain food means brain power so slow carbohydrates are a must-have and these include rolled oats, bananas and cooked and cooled potatoes. There are also beneficial starches made from beans or tapioca that support brain health, vital for helping us think and react quicker in our fast-paced digital economy.
People are discovering the bountiful probiotics in fermented foods that are good for gut health. Fermented foods include milk kefir, kombucha, tempeh and even craft beer. “Probiotics form phlegm to bind toxins off from our gut, allowing it to be flushed out with water or fibre from prebiotics,” explains Melissa Mak, founder of SG Fermentation Friends on Facebook. Chef Alvin Leong from Baba Chews Bar & Eatery uses fermented beans in an iconic Peranakan dish given a modern twist called ‘Iberico Short Ribs Pongteh’.
Besides glorious hues, natural dyes from ingredients such as bluepea flower, pandan leaves, marigold flowers are also packed with anti-oxidants.
Let your tummy experience a rainbow swirl, using natural colouring from fruits and vegetables. Think matcha cakes, beetroot concoctions, charcoal buns, or purple ube pastries. Besides glorious hues, natural dyes from ingredients such as bluepea flower, pandan leaves, marigold flowers are also packed with anti-oxidants. Chef Mina Park’s HAWKR – a pop-up dining store-cum-cafe in Hong Kong – serves up delish ready-to-go breakfast bowls where red dragon fruit is used.
Even blue-algae is also getting noticed: Melbourne’s Matcha Mylkbar started the trend in 2016 where consumers cough up A$8 for a blue latte beverage that’s been cited for its “strong seaweed scent”, offering 70 per cent plant protein and which is more nutrient-dense than broccoli.
With the popularity of chia seeds (a type of mint) promoted by health fanatics, grains and seeds are finding their way into restaurants and cafes. On social media, chia seeds are being added to drinks, smoothies, shakes and bakes. There’s also spelt – the world’s oldest grain known to man – which is gaining fame for its high protein content, dietary fibre and minerals. Not forgetting, there’s quinoa, a flowering plant from the amaranth family, which is gaining popularity for being high in fibre and for not promoting a spike in insulin once consumed.
Gourmands and foodies are looking at microgreens to chow down or garnish main dishes or sides because they are essentially mini plants of their adult versions. They can be grown at home and take about one to two weeks to sprout, after which you can harvest and eat. In fact, some microgreens like broccoli are eaten the moment they germinate from seeds.
“Broccoli microgreens have about 40 times more nutrients than their adult versions and they can be eaten in less than five days after they have sprouted. People use them in sandwiches, garnish main meals or salads,” explains urban farmer Teo Cheng Foo. Popular seeds to grow include kale, beetroot, celery, lettuce and purple basil. In fact, a single tablespoon of microgreens can offer nutrients such as lutein, Vitamin E and K, beta-carotene, to name a few.