The good (matcha), the bad (lard) and the downright weird (insects?!)… we called the food trends du jour and now they are coming to a plate near you.
The biggest green trend since kale, matcha actually tastes as good as it is for you. The finely ground green tea powder is being used in everything from smoothies and juices to croissants (green ones). And if you’ve already been drinking green tea to lower your risk of cardiovascular problems, cancer, diabetes, you’ll be happy to know that its powdered form is a much stronger, much more intensive health hit. Matcha also contains the amino acid L-Theanine, promoting calm and relaxation, plus it’s full of antioxidants, which means it’ll be this year’s coconut water. For a mid-morning treat, whip up a matcha latte, or mix it into a rub for a salmon steak dinner.
Try the recipe: Matcha salmon noodle recipe
Crisp, crunchy and full of freshness, slaw is our side dish of choice. Now’s your chance to spruce up Ouma’s coleslaw (easy on the raisins and tangy mayo) – opt for a sturdy base veg, ensuring it’ll be able to withstand your chosen dressing. Use a mandolin to get the shred as thin as possible. When you’re ready to serve, pick your sauce – a simple vinaigrette or a creamy mayo-based dressing – but make sure not to overdo it – no one likes soggy vegetables. The best thing about this braai-season staple is that it’s simple to make, requires only three types of produce max, and it’s an easy complement to any meat on a grill. Not sure this’ll stand up to the protein on your plate? Add last-minute touches such as nuts, apple or a sprinkle of bacon dust to up the ante.
Try the recipe: Fennel and apple slaw recipe
This year oysters are being appreciated for more than just their lustrous gifts of pearls as chefs and sea farmers have started throwing around the term ‘merroir’ – that’s terroir of the sea. Much like its wine counterpart, merroir is a reflection of the conditions under which the oyster has grown. The West Coast, for example, where Antonio Tonin and his wife Sue farm oysters under their Saldanha Bay Oyster Co., has a particularly rich oceanic system thanks to ‘upwelling’. As Sue explains, ‘When the Cape southeaster blows, cold waters from the deep layers of the ocean circulate in towards the coast and then rise up, carrying nutrients to the surface in a plume that flows north.’ She notes, ‘Oysters taste of the seawater that nourishes them, a taste that is affected by ocean currents and tides, temperature and chemistry.’
Try the recipe: Rooibos smoked oysters
Sure, we’ve always been partial to an aged Scotch, but as more producers pop up all over the world offering top-quality drams from craft distilleries, we’re looking to small-batch producers and countries previously not associated with producing the water of life. Don’t be a snob – try it neat, on the rocks, in cocktails and even infused with maple or cinnamon flavours – and use it to make food taste that much better: pear flapjacks with a honey bourbon dressing? Yes, please!
Try the recipe: Pear flapjacks with honey bourbon sauce
You can’t throw a stalk of cauliflower without hitting an LCHF proponent these days. That, along with a spike in interest over the past few years in nose-to-tail dining and all things pork, has resulted in the return of lard. Oddly enough, pig blubber has received some negative attention in its reintroduction to an increasingly overweight society, but lard actually has less saturated fat than butter, and it’s got a decent smoking point (185° C), bringing a fresh crunch to chips and roasted veggies. While it’s unwise to indulge on a daily basis (with those calories, the lip to hip probability is high), its applications are broad – smear it on a slice of artisanal toast and you’ll have the hippest meal around (see trend #9), or melt it over a steak for a fancy, indulgent meal.
6. All things veggie
Veggies are no longer the supporting acts to protein. Right now, ‘ugly’ root vegetables such as kohlrabi, parsnips and celeriac are taking the starring role, and we’re discovering what new flavours they can offer dishes. Trying the new tastes isn’t even the fun part: it’s the cooking and experimenting with complementary flavours that make this a hot trend. There’s also a whole lot of vegetable innovation to be seen: we can’t wait to try veggie yoghurt and visit our local vegan ‘butchers’.
READ all about The herbivorous butcher
7. Healthy hybrids
‘Frankenspirits’ is how we described liquid mash-ups in the 2015 Trend Report, because when tequila meets bubbly, you know you’re in for a pretty scary headache the next day. But in the food world, we’re looking forward to trying hybrids that are good for us, like broccoflower – a mashup of broccoli and cauliflower – and BrusselKale, a coupling of 2014’s veggie darlings.
At fine-dining restaurants, patrons are finding crickets, grasshoppers, silkworms and beetles on their plates, and they’re not sending them back! The latest worldwide food trend is insects, which sort of makes sense – these crunchy morsels of protein have a tiny footprint (six to be exact) as a far more sustainable source of protein than livestock. Cricket flour is increasingly being used as a replacement for protein powder, and famed Danish chef Rene Rezepi now makes mayo using bee larvae instead of eggs.
In the HL 2015 Trend Report, toast was named one of the year’s hottest flavours. But that doesn’t mean any old slice of bread thrown into a toaster; it calls for loaves made with love. For a delicious and easy desk lunch, think toppings such as cream cheese with paper-thin slices of radish, or a mushed half avo on chunky seeded toast with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of chilli flakes. Breakfast is sorted with our spicy eggy soldiers served with a thick slice of sourdough rye.
10. Bone Broth
It’s not only Paleo supporters who are getting behind this beefed-up stock. In the US, restaurants like Brodo, a window joint in New York, are selling it as an alternative to espresso and tea, serving it out of paper cups – to-go coffee-style – with various accompaniments such as turmeric, chilli oil and bone marrow to spice it up. It’s considered an elixir. Well, like most trends, that’s got everything to do with what it does for you: top-notch broths will have used good-quality bones that are packed with collagen, minerals and amino acids.