While the latest SIAL (Global Food Marketplace) international food exhibition in Paris outlined the food innovations of tomorrow, a Nov 12 report from the American food industry trends researcher, Sterling-Rice Group, runs down the top trends that are set to make the taste of 2019. Here are some of the report’s biggest and most surprising trends.
As veggies ride high in the food world, pushing meat into the background, a new line-up of vegetables is ready to take the spotlight and liven up plates in 2019. Roots look set to be a particular trend. Joining a host of previously forgotten vegetables, back on menus for a while now, next year will see cassava, Japanese yams and parsnips claim star status. Watch out for jicama (sengkuang, in Malay) too, a Mexican root vegetable that looks like a turnip, which can be used cooked or raw.
Bitter is better
The culinary landscape at last appears set to truly embrace bitterness. Members of this family of flavours – such as broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, collards and endive, will be sharing the stage with kale. According to the report, bitter will also be a key theme for cocktails and drinks.
Fermented foods are another key trend for 2019, embracing the full benefits of bacteria. The process, already used to make cheese, for example, is set to become more prevalent in the coming year with a rise in foods such as tempeh. This Indonesian meat alternative and relation of tofu is made by fermenting hulled and cooked soybeans.
Could celtuce be the new kale? Lettuce is now on the menu in several forms and is even being juiced for use in intriguing new beverages. More exotic varieties are likely to step into the limelight next year, such as celtuce or stem lettuce, widely used in Asian cuisine.
Kernza the latest grain
After millet, quinoa and buckwheat, Kernza is the latest grain to sample. Kernza is a perennial plant derived from wheat, grown in North American for use in breakfast cereals, snacks and even beer, and its production is particularly praised by environmental protectionists. Kernza was developed by an American scientific institute seeking to develop a cereal capable of restoring soil while helping to stabilise the climate.
A trend seen at the recent SIAL exhibition, foods developed to satisfy appetites and preserve health will also be on the agenda in 2019. According to the report from Sterling-Rice Group, more than 3,000 new food products featuring collagen launched in 2018. – AFP Relaxnews
ALSO READ: What are Malaysians still crazy about salted egg yolk dishes?
Dotty’s Pastries & Coffee
Since it opened in 2016, Dotty’s Pastries & Coffee (owned by Nur Nadia SM Nasimuddin and Nur Diana SM Nasimuddin under the Naza Group of Companies’ F&B division Lyfestyle Projects) has been attracting a large following for its salted egg yolk croissant-doughtnuts, with daily queues a common occurrence to this day.
“It’s still the best-selling one, and it made us known,” says its marketing and PR manager Nor Natrah Omar Abd Rahim, adding that Dotty’s also sells salted egg yolk eclairs, doughnuts and cruffins.
Dotty’s makes 150 salted egg yolk croissant-donuts on weekdays and between 300 and 400 pieces on weekends and often even this isn’t enough to cater to demand!
The sweet, creamy salted egg yolk filling is made by double boiling cooked egg yolks with a custard on low heat for three to four hours until it thickens and attains a silky texture. Taste-wise, the salted egg yolk croissant-doughnut is very satisfying – the pastry is flaky and buttery and the salted egg yolk filling is really rich and sweet.
Also, you’ll be happy to note that you’re really getting your money’s worth with this croissant-doughnut (priced at RM11), which weighs 120g, of which 80g is made up of the salted egg yolk filling!
Dotty’s has become incredibly popular off the back of its salted egg yolk pastries. Clockwise from bottom left: salted egg yolk eclair, salted egg yolk doughnut, salted egg yolk cronut. Photo: The Star/Art Chen
Hou Sek Gourmet Snacks
Started early this year by engineering graduate Ivan Lim Huan-Wen and his mother’s best friend Wong Su Mene, Hou Sek (www.housek.co) specialises in salted egg yolk fish skin and salted egg yolk potato chips.
Lim was inspired to start the business after trying a Singa-porean version. “When I had my first bite, I remember telling myself, this is pretty good, but it’s way too expensive after (currency) conversion. And I believe I know who can make it taste better.”
So Lim and Wong (a successful home baker) worked to get their idea off the ground, researching and trying other products in the market to see what they were up against. It took them four months to perfect their own recipe.
“What makes our product special is the fact that we make them in small batches by hand, so each batch of fish skin and potato chips is evenly coated, giving the maximum taste,” says Lim.
Hou Sek’s salted egg yolk fish skin (RM22) and salted egg yolk potato chips (RM20) are sinfully good – the former features perfectly crisp skin juxtaposed against curry leaves and grainy salted egg yolk in every mouthful. The potato chips, meanwhile, are satisfyingly crunchy, with salted egg yolk lurking in nooks and crevices.
Lim says Hou Sek’s success has surpassed all his expectations. “We were initially doing it for fun. I said to myself, if we sold 100 packets in a month, that’ll be quite an achievement already because we get to have some extra allowance. Let’s just say we achieved almost 10 times of what we initially planned for and we project it to grow exponentially in the months to come,” he says.
Hou Sek’s salted egg yolk fish skin is delightful – the skin is crispy and coated in lots of grainy egg yolk. Lim says he and his partner Su spent four months perfecting their recipe. Photo: Hou Sek
Ultraman salted egg yolk stall
This popular salted egg yolk stall (called Ultraman because of the Ultraman figurines in the stall) can be found in many pasar malam in the Klang Valley, like Taman OUG and SS2. The stall has been around since 2013 and is the brainchild of Chee Hoo Wong, a former cook in a Chinese restaurant.
The reticent Chee is a hard man to have a conversation with as he is constantly busy entertaining the swarm of customers hovering around his stall, hankering after his wide range of offerings, like salted egg yolk mantis prawn, squid, tofu, chicken and pumpkin, among others.
Chee says he works the night market circuit in the Klang Valley seven days a week and uses close to 1,000 salted eggs to make the many variants he cooks on site.
In a large wok, Chee adds generous ladlefuls of a homemade egg yolk paste and then the desired ingredient, which is already deep-fried, and some curry leaves until everything is well-coated. Chee’s mastery is such that all the ingredients are perfectly encased in the salted egg yolk mixture – trust me, it’s impossible not to fall in love!
You can easily spot the Ultraman salted egg yolk stall by picking out the Ultraman figurine. Photo: The Star/Abirami Durai
Trends come and go and this ebb and flow is a natural phenomenon, particularly in the food scene where food fads reach a peak, before inevitably finding contact with the force of gravity.
Just a few years ago, cupcakes, kale and doughnuts were being heralded and championed, but all have now fallen by the wayside in favour of current obsessions like turmeric latte, acai bowls and avocado toast.
And then there is the ubiquitous salted egg yolk, an age-old fixture in the local culinary tapestry that has somehow reinvented itself in the 21st century, where it has morphed into an unstoppable modern juggernaut.
Salted eggs originated in China centuries ago and typically involve duck eggs, which are richer, have more Omega-3 fatty acids and contain more cholesterol (three times more!) than chicken eggs. According to an article in the Michelin Guide Singapore, the earliest recorded mention of salted duck eggs was in the Qimin Yaoshu, an ancient Chinese agricultural text dating back to the fifth century AD.
Research published in the August 2015 edition of scientific journal Poultry Science indicated that salted duck eggs were first developed to prolong shelf life, as there was no refrigeration at the time.
Salted eggs are made by either brining the eggs in salt or encrusting them in salted charcoal. In most local supermarkets, salted eggs are typically sold with the charcoal coating, which consumers remove before cooking.
Ahmad Najib Ariffin says salted eggs have long been a traditional side dish in Malaysia, but have now become celebrated and commercialised. Photo: Nadge Ariffin
Salted eggs have a rich, almost opulent taste, with bright yellow yolks that have a grainy, oily texture that bind well with most ingredients. The saltiness is inherent in every mouthful – reportedly each salted egg contains 10g of sodium!
According to local food historian Ahmad Najib Ariffin, better known as Nadge, salted eggs have long been a traditional staple in Malaysia.
“Salted egg, or telur asin – interestingly not so much called telur masin (Malay for “salty”) – has long been a local and traditional staple side condiment in local food not just in Malaysia but throughout the Malay archipelago, where it is consistently named telur asin even in Indonesia and Brunei. Thus, being traditional it is not new.
“In kampung or village food there is even telur asin pedas (spicy salted egg) and a medicinal telur asin halia (ginger salted egg). If these were not already traditional, they’d probably be praised as innovative!” he says.
Salted egg dishes are also a traditional pantry must-have in Chinese cuisine, with dishes like congee often flecked with salted egg yolks, which are believed to eliminate heatiness and help with diarrhoea.
While its place in traditional food is deep-rooted, a few years ago, salted egg yolk began shedding the traditional shell (pun intended) it had long been associated with in favour of modern iterations. Suddenly, it was a mainstay on menus everywhere, specifically the more hipster affairs that millennials were frequenting.
The craze inspired many salted egg yolk permutations: MyBurger-Lab unleashed a salted egg yolk burger in 2016 that was hugely popular (it now even sells salted egg yolk sauce!) and Dotty’s Pastries & Coffee took the TTDI area by storm with its salted egg yolk croissant-doughnuts.
In Singapore, salted egg yolk packaged products began making their rounds – the hugely popular Irvin’s salted egg yolk fish skin and potato chips inspired a cult-like following and this led to local brands like Hou Sek Gourmet Snacks starting their own versions.
The popular Ultraman salted egg yolk stall run by former Chinese restaurant cook Chee Hoo Wong. Photo: The Star/Abirami Durai
Even hawker stalls got in on the action – the popular Ultraman stall, a frequent sight at pasar malam offers salted egg yolk mantis, squid, chicken, tofu and pumpkin made fresh on site.
Why is salted egg yolk so popular?
According to Nadge, there are many reasons for the popularity of salted egg yolk.
“I would say it did not become mainstream as it was common and thus already mainstream, but somewhat neglected. What has happened is that it has become celebrated or even one could say gentrified and carrying it further, it has become fusionised with just about anything one can think of – and finally commercialised.
“It became these things for a simple reason; people are always looking for, 1) more intense tastes, and 2) that single something to be rediscovered and/or reinvented. Salted egg, and by extension salted egg yolk with its intense saltiness mixed with that grainy sensation on the tongue fit the bill nicely for both reasons stated!” he says.
Ivan Lim says Hou Sek has done much better than he ever anticipated. Photo: Hou Sek
Meanwhile Ivan Lim Huan-Wen, founder of Hou Sek Gourmet Snacks (which makes salted egg yolk fish skin and potato chips) believes that salted egg yolk has been increasingly popular thanks to a spurt of originality and creativity on the part of local entrepreneurs, as well as a local proclivity for shiny new things.
“The gastronomic scene has been very exciting in recent years. People are more adventurous and want to try new, different or even weird foods and food combination. But having said that, we believe it’s the creativity of this new generation that has elevated this humble egg yolk sauce,” he says.
Although Lim believes that the salted egg yolk trend will continue to grow for at least the next two years before potentially fading a little, Dotty’s marketing and PR manager Nor Natrah Omar Abd Rahim thinks the trend will continue to grow indefinitely. In fact, the eatery is now planning to expand its outlets (it has three now) as well as its salted egg yolk repertoire.
“We are actually expanding and will keep doing more salted egg yolk items, like the salted egg yolk gelato (which we’ve done before), salted egg yolk cookies and cakes,” she says.
A new diet with a hip name and various restrictions seems to pop up every other day, much to the chagrin of waiters and others who have trouble keeping up with the ever-updating list of the forbidden.
Luckily, the pegan diet – not to be confused with the pagan diet, which has yet to be invented but surely has potential – is a hybrid of two already-popular eating plans: paleo and vegan.
Following its prescriptions, you can tell yourself that you’re eating just like a caveman would, albeit a caveman who cares about animals.
Paleo diets require adherents to give up certain foods that our cavemen ancestors couldn’t eat because they didn’t have farming yet, such as rice, potatoes, noodles and bread – even the whole-grain versions.
Plant-based oils (other than olive) and legumes are also no-nos.
Meanwhile, a vegan diet means giving up all products made from animals, from meat to eggs and milk, for a wholly plant-based way of eating.
US doctor Mark Hyman came up with the idea of fusing the concepts, putting the focus mostly on lots of vegetables, very little sugar, no oils except for olive oil, no dairy products, no pulses, beans or legumes, no gluten and absolutely no preservatives.
Meat is allowed, but is seen as an accompaniment, not the main dish.
“Both movements focus on foods that are as unprocessed as possible, do away with refined carbohydrates and encourage lots of fresh vegetables,” explains Lisa Hapke from Germany’s ProVeg initiative.
However, because meat is allowed, even in small portions, the pegan diet is not an option for vegans.
ProVeg nevertheless praises the diet’s recommendation to focus on foods with a low glycaemic index.
The glycaemic index indicates how foods containing carbohydrates will affect blood sugar levels, explains Olaf Lenzen, director of the nutrition centre at Berlin’s Vivantes clinic.
“It’s about eating products that make you feel full for longer,” he explains. The concept was introduced more than 30 years ago as part of research on diabetes.
“The concept of avoiding foods with a high glycaemic index and in general eating fresh fruits and vegetables is absolutely the right step, beyond all the trends in nutrition these days,” says Lenzen.
However, Lenzen doesn’t agree with pegans’ avoidance of grains and legumes.
“There is absolutely nothing in the nutritional science realm that supports that recommendation – the fibre content and micronutrients those foods provide are an important part of a healthy diet.”
Ursula Hudson, director of Slow Food Germany, views all new diet trends with scepticism.
“Trends come in and out of fashion,” she says.
Hudson also believes people are moving further and further away from knowing the origins of what they eat: They no longer understand where their food comes from, what’s in season or how to cook certain vegetables.
She warns against frantically looking to others for advice on how to eat instead of sticking to what’s tried-and-true. – dpa