The term ethnic food in the US was once reserved for foods associated with exotic locations, like Southeast Asia, India, Northern Africa. Because it is largely based on cultural ideals, the term ethnic when applied to food, can encompasses a variety of cooking styles, geographic cuisines and ingredients. According to the 1800 professional chefs polled in the 2013 What’s Hot Survey, foods with perceived ethnic appeal are among the top trends for the coming year.
Ethnic Breakfast Items
Restaurants across the US have been sprucing up their breakfast menu, stretching beyond bacon and eggs. Number 14 on the What’s Hot Survey is Ethnic-inspired breakfast items, with 67% of chef’s rating it as a hot trend for 2013. Examples of an ethnic breakfast items include coconut milk pancakes, Thai chili eggs and Asian flavored syrups, like those flavored with peanuts, satay, or cilantro, just to name a few.
Ethnic Inspired Appetizers
Number 48 in the What’s Hot Survey is ethnic/street food inspired appetizers, such as tempura, taquitos, kabobs and hummus. This isn’t surprising, given the rising popularity of food trucks (which round out the top 20 trend for 2013). Read more about the 2013 What’s Hot Survey Hot Trends.
Ethnic Children’s Dishes
This trend goes along with the bigger trend of 2013, improving children’s menus. Gone are the days of chicken fingers and hot dogs as the main stay on kids menus. Parents who dine out want more options for their kids, ones that are both tasty and healthy.
This trend also alludes to a bigger trend of using alternative ingredients. Replacing traditional milled white flour is a bevy of different grains, offering new flavors, textures and better nutritional value. For example, teff is a tiny cereal grain that has been popular in Ethiopia for centuries. It’s rich in both calcium and iron. Another popular choice is cassava flour, an alternative name for tapioca, showing that food, like fashion, comes in cycles.
Ethnic Cheese and Condiments
If you are looking up some easy ways to revamp your restaurant menu, without rewriting the entire menu, try adding in some ethnic inspired cheeses and condiments. Cheese like halloumi, paneer, lebneh and queso fresco are increasingly popular choices for menu items. Along with mustard, ketchup and salsa, consider offering Sriracha, a spicy Japanese chili sauce to go on burgers or fries. Other ethic condiments that may find their way to restaurant tables in the near future include raitha, chimichurri and chutney sauces.
Exotic fruits like rambutan, dragon fruit, paw paws and guava are number 61 on the What’s Hot Survey. Like all fruit, they are seasonal. Maybe these items are not a menu mainstay all year long, but consider working them into seasonal specials (strawberry mango shortcake, for example).
Ethnic Fusion Cuisine
Ethic fusion cuisine refers to the blending of one or more ethnic cuisines into one, unique style. For example authentic Indian cuisine may be altered to appeal to western tastes, or a restaurant might build a menu item around two different types of cuisine, like an Asian inspired barbeque sauce.