Vibrant colour is the order of the day for 2018 flavour trends.
Interestingly, many of these ingredients originate from our corner of the world: South East Asia. Here's a look at 5 hot new flavours coming our way next year.
Pandan: The New Superfood King
Image from 2359.com.ua
For us in Southeast Asia, pandan leaves have always been a flavour staple in our culture. Used in everything from nonya kuehs to the unassuming pandan chiffon cake, one might say we take it for granted.
Our humble green friend is making waves across the pond. Recently, Nigella Lawson declared pandan the 'it' food of the season.
Image from 8 Days
Foodies across the United States and the United Kingdom are now trying their hand at baking their own frozen pandan desserts & baked goods.
Set to be the newest, hottest ‘green’ food, overtaking avocado and matcha, it's even touted as "the king of all superfoods":
"...they lower high blood pressure, inhibit cancer cell development, reduce anxiety & stress..."
Well, that's certainly news to us - good news, since we've long had pandan in our diets!
Images from Shiok Man and The MeatMen
We're just here waiting for a hipster bakery in Brooklyn to combine the trend of pandan & rainbow foods - which seem to be sticking around - then get the shock of their lives when they find out about our Nine-Layer Kuehs. A local classic that's way ahead of the trends!
RUBY CHOCOLATE: All Natural, All Pink
Image from REUTERS/Aly Song
Call us crazy, but we find it pretty suspect that chocolate manufacturer, Barry Callebaut, just so happen to come forward with their pink chocolate invention, right when millennial pink is having a moment.
Made from the Ruby bean, which comes from Ecuador, Brazil, and Ivory Coast, this rosy pink chocolate reportedly does not contain any red colouring, or flavouring.
Its taste notes of "berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness" and hue come naturally from the bean itself.
However, the pretty pink chocolate is not without its critics.
New Zealand distributor, The Chocolate Bar, has called it 'absolute twaddle': "From everything I've read and heard, this is just a milk or white 'chocolate' that's been made with unfermented cacao, hence the colour and lack of chocolatey taste."
Owner of the distributor, Luke Owen Smith, has also gone on to opine that the chocolate "isn't special and probably tastes bad" - as its pink hue most likely comes from raw, unfermented cacao, which is usually red in colour.
Image from @original_beans
Smith continues, "I'm reasonably certain that they're not fermenting the cacao...That makes it dubious about whether you'd really want to call it chocolate because fermentation is where the chocolate flavour starts to begin coming in.
Cacao before fermentation, it's not really chocolate - it's cacao....Unfermented cacao is really not that pleasant."
Gif from The Business Insider
Details on ruby chocolate are pretty sketchy as of now, with Barry Callebaut keeping mum on the processing techniques used to bring out the chocolate's pink hue and fruity taste.
Unfortunately, without knowing how it's produced, it'll be hard to find products made from ruby chocolate outside of Barry Callebaut's own range. But we'll keep our eyes peeled for ruby hot chocolates popping up next year - we're dying for a taste test.
Turmeric: Golden Boy
Images from Heavenlynn Healthy
Another Southeast Asian ingredient finding celebrity status in new waters. Traditionally used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, most notably curries, it’s built a cult following under a new alias: Golden Milk.
Some have even gone so far as to dub turmeric the ‘Best Thing That’s Happened To Ice Cream’.
Image from The Kitchn
How does prata & curry with a turmeric latte sound? Image from Sethlui.com
We'll wash their eggs benny prata down with a golden latte, thanks.
Unicorn Food: Rainbow Food For Health
Image from @elisa_mercado3
A rainbow is a rainbow is a rainbow, right? Apparently not – as we just learned, there are many ways to 'rainbow' your food.
From the good ol’ fashioned rainbow cake, that become the pastel rainbow cake, that morphed into the prominent rainbow bagel, that metamorphosed into rainbow toast...we now have food that’s been kissed by unicorns.
The evolution of the rainbow. Images from Martha Stewart, @kekutailhade, @kaieatsworld, and Cosmopolitan.
Have we come full circle yet? No?
The core difference between unicorn food and regular rainbow food? The health aspect.
It might be hard to believe at first glance, but the colours above were all achieved via natural ingredients!
Cream cheese dyed with natural ingredients, such as beet juice. Image from vibrantandpure.com.
Unbeknownst to most outside of the more involved food community, unicorn food has its roots in health, usually vegan, food. The entire point was to create these beautiful, pastel hues with only the use of natural colours: from vibrant ingredients such as edible algae, beet juice, and turmeric.
When Starbucks launched their famed Unicorn Frappucino, however, that all changed.
The trend exploded on the Internet, and artificially-coloured unicorn food started showing up in a big way. Many cafes now feature unicorn grilled cheese on their menu.
The gooey-ooey cheese you see here is dyed artificially with food colouring.
“Plenty of people are not happy with how the coffee giant decided to capture the health-food zeitgeist in a sugary drink. The [Frappuccino] is loaded with sugar and BS. It'd be super-easy to create unicorn food that's sugary and full of dyes.”
— Adeline Waugh, the food stylist who has been credited with starting the unicorn food movement on her popular Instagram account, @vibrantandpure
We stand with you, Adeline! We take our hats off to those who truly take the time out to create such beautiful grub the natural way - making food that looks as good as it is for your body.
Purple Food: It's A Purple Parade
Images from The Kitchn, In Sonnet's Kitchen, Mill Valley Patch, Back To The Roots
We aren’t talking just purple sweet potato or acai: we’ve progressed to purple cauliflower, asparagus, corn, and cereal.
Notably, ube, a Filipino purple yam, has sparked a huge following over in the United States. Recipes for ube ice cream, brownies, doughnuts and more are now a dime a dozen on food channels such as Tastemade and Buzzfeed Food.