1. Straight from the sea
We’ve all chomped on enough sushi rolls to know seaweed is a totally approachable ingredient, but there's more to this ocean veggie (dubbed “the new kale”) than nori. Kombu, for instance, is a dark algae simmered to make dashi broth, while wakame and dulse are dried seaweeds that are simple to hydrate and toss in a salad.
According to the 2016 Trend Forecast from the Specialty Food Association, seaweed ticks the sustainability and umami boxes, plus its high in antioxidants, fibre, iodine and good fats.
Chefs, by the way, love it too. On his recent trip to Australia, Rene Redzepi and his Noma team went diving for seaweed in Tasmania, so lucky diners at Noma's Sydney pop-up (opening January 26) may find it on the menu.
2. Sweet-as pie
From frozen yoghurt to the cronut and glazed doughnut, US desserts have dominated our dolce menus and social channels in recent years. So it makes sense the next big thing is pretty much as American as apple pie. Um, yeah that's because it is apple pie. Well, apple pie, peach pie, chocolate pie, banana pie... basically any pie that sits in sweet territory.
Sydneysider and self-proclaimed pie addict, Phoebe Wood, is one to watch in this space. The former SBS Feast magazine food editor will be launching The Pie Project Cookbook in April this year, and by the looks of her pastry-laden Instagram account, the sweet pie phenomenon is set to go off. The trend may spark debate over what actually constitues as a "pie" — it's controversial to serve sans top crust; traditionally that's a tart — but we're happy to remain liberal, as long as the pastry's delicious!)
If you'd prefer to buy, rather than bake, get the all American experience at Hartsyard in Sydney with their sweet potato pies with marshmallow tops — or get the recipe here. Otherwise, try Melbourne's Meatmaiden for "Crack Mom's apple pie", peanut butter pie at South Side Diner or, wait for it, a brownie-crusted, chocolate granache-filled pie at Dello Mano in Brisbane.
3. Creepy food
There was a time in Oz when you'd only see bugs on your plate because you were dining alfresco, but an openness to edible insects is starting to grow. There are around 2000 edible inspect species in the world, and for many countries across Asia and the Americas, they’re a cheap, accessible and tasty source of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. While insects play a role in the diets of many indigenous cultures, they also feaure in silver service, too. World-class chefs Alex Atala of D.O.M. in Brazil and Noma’s Rene Redzepi are fans, along with Australia's own Kylie Kwong, who also incorporates native ingredients like samphire and Kakadu plum into her Billy Kwong menu.
If maggots and mealworms don’t strike your fancy, Luke Nguyen tells us coconut palm grubs taste like raw salmon infused with coconut. Hm, that flavour combination does sound kind of delicious...
4. Ugly food
Forget unblemished apples and identical Dutch carrots, there’s a food revolution going on… and it ain’t pretty. You might have noticed “ugly” fruits and veggies in your local grocer, but soon they could be delivered to your door, too. The trend has been bubbling since 2014, when Intermarché (France’s third-largest supermarket chain) created the “Inglorious fruits and vegetables” range in an effort to cut food waste by buying and selling the produce farmers would normally throw away.
That same year, Sydney grocer Harris Farm launched their Imperfect Picks range — in a 12 month period it managed to “rescue” two million kilograms, or 50 semi-trailer loads, of food — followed swiftly by Woolworths’ Odd Bunch.
And in the US, home-delivered "ugly" produce boxes are becoming the next big thing. Just this week, US TV show Shark Tank gave a food waste delivery start-up US$100K to expand their business. The Maryland-based company Hungry Harvest has rescued 300,000 pounds (136 tonnes) since it was founded in May 2014, with about 45 tonnes of that being donated to feed the needy.
While exclusively ugly produces boxes are yet to hit Aussie shores, there are plenty of farm-fresh delivery services here, too.
5. Fermented food
Kimchi and kombucha. One’s a spicy Korean cabbage side; the other, a probiotic-rich beverage made from a bacteria and yeast-based starter. They might sound like edible opposites, but both of these foods are fermented, which means they’re excellent at cultivating a healthier gut. (There’s also a growing body of research showing they could reduce social anxiety, too).
Pickles have been popular for the last few years, but the fermented fan base is building. Why? First, there are dozens to choose from, including sourdough bread, soured dairy products (think labna and yoghurt), pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh and even Indian dosa (chickpea crepes). Second, they feature in cuisines across the globe. And third, they're awfully delicious.
So if you have a pickling proclivity, here are seven books to check out. Bonus: a fiery kimchi recipe features. Oh and if you’re in the kombucha camp, get across this strawberry and kombucha cake from health blogger Renee Byrd.
And if our predictions are totally wrong...
We're quitting and following the cult of Adam Liaw.
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