A Resurgence in Asian Flavors Creates Opportunity for Bold New Concepts

Flavor trends often show up in lifestyle language, such as “comfort food” or “healthy lifestyle.” They also arrive as showcases to an entire culture, country or world region. That’s the case with the strong and rising interest in Asian flavors, which capture unique colors, tastes and smells from a wide variety of South Asian countries.

A recent Food Business News article took a look at how India and Korea are seeing a rise in popularity. Small wonder, given how much each has given the world in terms of culinary offerings.

While most consumers will say they know “Indian food,” that awareness is often limited to a few dishes — and they may not know the particular spices involved. This creates a gateway for education, especially around spices such as fennel and cardamom, which also offer functional benefits for immune health and digestive health.

Fennel, for instance, with its anise or mild black licorice flavor, is a standard in Indian fare. Same goes for green cardamom, which offers up a zesty citrus flavor with notes of sweet spice, and black cardamom with its almost menthol-like flavor. Those bold tastes have livened up curry and biryani for centuries and now are beginning to appear in mixed drinks, such as a cardamom orange vodka fizz or a Campari-fennel aperitif.

Korean spices and tastes may not be as well known in Western cultures, creating even more opportunity for novel inclusions. Kimchi and Gochujang are two that are trending right now, fueled by Gen Z’s eagerness to explore new tastes (as well as new music, such as K-Pop).

That said, most all age groups enjoy spice in varying degrees. Enter kimchi, a pickled-vegetable product with its blend of sour, spicy, and umami flavor notes, with sour being the most prominent from the fermentation.  Now add gochujang, a red chili paste with a nice balance of savory, sweet and spicy — often paired with honey to amplify the sweetness. Where are they popping up? Well, consider a kimchi grilled cheese sandwich, or kimchi fried rice, or a kimchi aioli dipping sauce.  And gochujang ramps up anything from sauces to noodle dishes.

Consumers continue to be daring when it comes to trying new flavors. That can be in an entirely new food or beverage, or as a novel twist on a current favorite. Either way, the Sensient team of flavor technologists is eager to partner with manufacturers and see what they can create together. Contact us to learn more.