Sourcing the globe for the next sriracha

by Jeff Gelski
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Global flavors
Spices from different countries may heat up menu items and retail products.
 

KANSAS CITY — They come from various continents and cultures, ready to blaze their mark on the world. Yet unlike Winter Olympics athletes competing on ice and snow this month in South Korea, spices from different countries may heat up menu items and retail products.

Gochujang from Korea and berbere from Ethiopia are two items that rely on spices and figuratively are going for the gold in flavor formulations. Africa and the Americas also provide distinct spicy flavors while two peppers from Europe offer a sweeter alternative.

Globally, the search continues for the next sriracha, a hot Asian sauce that has been featured in such mainstream outlets as McDonald’s.

Gochujang sauce
Gochujang is a slightly sweet, thick fermented red pepper paste made from glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and red chili peppers.
 

“Ever since the sriracha craze a few years ago, everyone has been looking into gochujang, a spicy Korean chili paste, as the next trendy Asian flavor,” said Shannon Cushen, director of marketing for Fuchs North America, Hampstead, Md. “Fermented and spicy flavors are both on-trend, and gochujang fits the bill for both.”

Gochujang works well on snacks like nuts, potato chips and tortilla chips, she said. It also may be used as a sauce or a sausage seasoning. Other spicy, fermented Asian flavors like kimchi have increased in popularity, too, Ms. Cushen said.

Gochujang, a slightly sweet, thick fermented red pepper paste, is made from glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and red chili peppers, according to Kalsec, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich. Besides gochujang, more Asian influence could come from the Filipino flavors of adobo and bagoong as well as the Asian island cuisines of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia and southern India, said Lacey Eckert, market development specialist for Kalsec.

Furikake seasoning
Furikake seasoning is a mixture of seaweed, sesame, dried seafood, sugar and salt.
 

“The complexity of the seasonings from these (Asian) regions speaks to their popularity,” said Peggy Iler, senior manager/ lead scientist for Kalsec. “Consumers continue to seek spices and seasonings that are more than just heat. Southeast Asian cuisine is a great way to introduce consumers to the richness imparted when spices are toasted before being ground into a seasoning. Combining sweetness with spiciness, sourness and/or fermented notes lends flavors that can be used not only in traditional dishes but also cross over into other food categories.”

New flavor profiles could be introduced in snacks, cooking sauces and marinades that would allow people to test their liking without much risk, she said.

McCormick & Co., Inc., Sparks, Md., mentioned furikake seasoning from Japan in the company’s “Flavor Forecast 2018: Taste Tomorrow’s Favorite Flavors.” A mixture of seaweed, sesame, dried seafood, sugar and salt, furikake provides umami and a subtle, sweet flavor. It may be sprinkled on rice, noodles, vegetables or seafood.

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