These are the biggest Aussie food trends you should know about
There’s always something new and exciting happening in the culinary world but it’s best to stay ahead of the game so we looked deep into our crystal ball to find out what will be trending next. Here are the new concepts, ingredients and inventions set to influence the food and drink scene around Australia.
A new wave of ingredients are taking over health-conscious cafés and food stores across Australia. Hemp seeds – strictly regulated to contain barely detectable amounts of THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) – are riding high as a cereal topping, oil and “milk”. Cassava flour, made from the root vegetable native to South America, is being embraced as a wheat alternative, while maca – or Peruvian ginseng – is emerging as a rival to matcha. Kombucha, the lightly fizzy fermented drink and gut health hero, is also crossing new frontiers. Coffee kombucha (made with fermented brewed coffee) and jun tea, which is similar to kombucha but made with green tea and raw honey rather than black tea and cane sugar, are appearing in cafés.
Coined in America and on its way to Australia, peganism is the latest diet mash-up to grab headlines. A cross between a paleo and a vegan diet, it takes the hunter-gatherer ethos of the paleo diet, ditches most of the meat and celebrates the vegetable. So what do the experts say? “It’s mainly a plant-based diet, with meat used as a condiment, which I like,” says Felicity Curtain of the Dietitians Association of Australia. “But you need to be aware of the fact that it’s restrictive of really healthy things like legumes and dairy foods.”
Using cheese in new ways
Cheese tea. Two words that should not go together are now forming an unholy alliance that aficionados say is just as much fun as bubble tea. Hugely popular in parts of Asia including China and Singapore, this cold, sweet tea capped with a layer of salted cream cheese foam is about to take over (and possibly polarise) Australia with the help of early adopters such as Canberra’s Tamago Co opens in new window.
A new citrus fruit
Calamansi, a citrus fruit hailing from the Philippines, is about to have its moment in the Australian sun. Drunk alone, the refreshing juice justifies its reputation as “Filipino lemonade” but mixologists and chefs – such as those at Sydney restaurant Flying Fish opens in new window – are starting to embrace its tart and sweet flavour profile, too. It’s also used in Filipino cooking as a marinade for meats or squeezed over noodles. This could mean we’re about to have our long-awaited Filipino food craze.
Kangaroo and wallaby have become regular fixtures on Aussie restaurant tables – and we’re likely to see even more intriguing species of our fauna turn up on menus, as the native trend continues its renaissance. At Navi opens in new window in Melbourne’s west, chef Julian Hills is playing possum – “It’s beautiful confit or braised,” he says – and serving it with roasted macadamia and wattle seed ragout. The Northern Territory’s native magpie goose is also a star of the show at Melbourne high-flyer Vue De Monde opens in new window. Executive chef Hugh Allen discovered the waterbird during his time cooking at Noma Australia. “It was dark and textured but also quite delicate,” he says. “The flavour really stuck with me.”
Following on from the success of abstinence months such as Dry July opens in new window and Ocsober opens in new window, low-proof spirits and alcohol substitutes are catching on faster than you can say “hangover-free”. Backed by a recent study from Berenberg Research, which shows Gen-Z drink about 20 per cent less alcohol than their Millennial elders, Australian companies such as Sobah opens in new windoware taking the booze out of beer without sacrificing the flavour. Sophisticated alcohol-free cocktails are also popping up in bars and restaurants that are making a mockery of the fruit juice-driven mocktails of the past. The middle ground is also becoming attractive: from London to New York, low alcohol cocktails, known as “shims”, are hero-ing vermouth, Campari and Aperol and fortified spirits over higher-proof gin and vodka. File under “health-conscious hedonism”.
Why inject when you can ingest? The emerging “beauty drink” industry, called nutricosmetics, promises to make you beautiful from the inside out with ingestible collagen. The structural protein that keeps skin looking youthful is gaining traction in powdered form to mix into smoothies or even gummies, so you can eat your way to lovely skin. Studies suggest collagen supplements may be helpful to skin when there is a deficiency and with the global nutricosmetics market booming, ingestible collagen trending here seems as inevitable as the ageing process itself.
Japanese herbs and spices
Shichimi togarashi. Put it on your shopping list. This made-in-heaven spice mix – typically comprised of coarsely-ground chilli pepper, black and white sesame seeds, sansho or sichuan peppercorns, ground ginger, poppy seeds, roasted orange peel and nori – is a favourite in Japan. Menu trends analyst Kruse Company calls togarashi and its friends “high-impact flavours”. The mainstreaming of Japanese ingredients in homes around the world (see: miso, dashi and ponzu) means a shaker of this piquant interest-giver will soon be on every dining table across the land, adding life to anything from scrambled eggs to noodles. Yuzu – the Japanese citrus that adds a light floral note to cooking – is also set to rival the backyard lemon tree.
Meat grown in a laboratory is set to make the leap from science fiction to reality this year, with a handful of companies across the globe almost ready to take their product to market, including Brisbane-based Heuros, which is developing animal-free nutrients to help grow “cell-based” meat in a lab. “Chicken nuggets have proven very successful for a Californian company and they’re likely to be the first lab-grown meat that consumers can buy,” says food futurist Tony Hunter. He also predicts the rise of 3D-printed food: “Machines that print food, such as a pizza, are only a year or so away.”