Rise of the mutant foods

Diners will be munching on ramen burgers, sushi tacos and other "mutant" foods in 2014, a report predicts.

The Cronut dessert craze is so last year.

Mutant dishes like sushi tacos, Italian burritos and ramen burgers are expected to push Australians flavour boundaries this year.

These unique food combinations are predicted to be one of the biggest trends in dining in 2014, according to Weber Shandwick's Food Forward report.

Noodlies blogger and food commentator Thang Ngo says Aussies have an insatiable passion for exploring new cuisines and flavours.

"We've had a lot of experience of food from different cultures," says Ngo.

"It was only a matter of time until our tastebuds got used to multicultural food and wanted to extend it."

Ngo, from Sydney's Cabramatta, has dined on sashimi tacos (baby tacos filled with tuna or salmon sashimi) at Sake in The Rocks and Newtown's Japone Sushi. At On Ramen, near Sydney's Chinatown, he's had the ramen burger - a bun made of deep fried noodles with a filling of salad and a patty - either beef, pork, chicken teriyaki or tofu.

"People have been mixing spices and ingredients for years, but this is mixing different dishes."

The food trend also reflects our growing preference for casual dining, he says.

Almost half of Australians surveyed nominated home-style cooking as their favoured dining option, followed by shared plates (24 per cent) and fine dining (19 per cent).

"These day we don't feel like we have to pay expensive prices to get good food," he says.

The ramen burger craze started in New York with Japanese American chef Keizo Shimamoto, says Not Quite Nigella blogger and food commentator Lorraine Elliott.

"Diners queue for hours for the cult companion food of the Cronut," says Elliott, the author of the book Not Quite Nigella.

As soon as Elliott hears about a new dish, she likes to try it herself. Recently, she spent an afternoon making her own ramen burger, experimenting with Japanese flavours, such as miso, teriyaki glaze, mirin and sesame.

"It's a very easy burger to make," she says.

It tastes nothing like a bowl of ramen and more like "a juicy, delicious burger".

And should we allow ourselves to be put off by the word mutant. Absolutely not, she says.

"They can be very tasty indeed.

"Don't knock it until you try it."

RECIPE

Ramen Burger (an original recipe by Not Quite Nigella)

Makes 4. Preparation time: 45 mins, cooking time: 20 mins

4 packets of ramen (1 packet of ramen per burger)

4 eggs

600g/21ozs beef mince

2 tablespoons white miso

2 tablespoons mirin

1/4 cup green shallots, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 flavour sachets from the ramen

Oil for frying

2 teaspoons Kewpie mayonnaise

Lettuce or cabbage leaves

For teriyaki glaze

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup mirin

1 clove garlic sliced

4 slices fresh ginger

Step 1: Cook ramen in boiling water (without the flavour or vegetable sachets) according to directions. Rinse under cold, running water and drain well. Beat eggs and place in a bowl and then using a fork, mix around the ramen in the bowl coating well.

Step 2: Take eight round takeaway containers of the same size (or at least matching pairs so that the sizes of the patties will match) and divide the ramen evenly into the eight containers. Cover with cling film and nest one into another. Weigh down with cans. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Meanwhile, make the teriyaki glaze by placing all of the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and simmering until it becomes thicker. It takes about 10-15 minutes and just make sure to watch it so that it doesn't burn.

Step 4: While the teriyaki glaze is simmering, make the patties by mixing the mince, miso, mirin, shallots, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil and two flavour sachets from the ramen into the mix to flavour it. Divide into four and shape into balls and flatten to round patties and refrigerate until needed.

Step 5: Once the ramen has had its time in the fridge, heat a frypan on medium heat (about 7 out of 10) and add some oil. Remove the can and cling wrap and fry the ramen patty until crispy with some browning-it will hold together better if the ramen browns (see above). Turn over and fry the other side. Repeat with the rest of the ramen.

Step 6: Add a little more oil and fry the beef patties on both sides until as done as you like them. Brush the patty with the teriyaki glaze and then place the patty on top of one ramen bun with mayonnaise and cabbage or lettuce. Place other half of ramen bun on top.

Source: AAP