Here are some of the food trends we predict will be making their way into your kitchen in 2023.
2022 was tumultuous in its own way. Coming out of the brunt of COVID restrictions, while having a war and a continued climate crisis to grapple with, meant there were many ups and downs last year, some of which will have a knock-on effect into 2023 – even within the food space. Last year was all about martinis and butter boards, but what does this year have in store for food lovers? Here are some of the food trends we predict will be making their way into your kitchen in 2023.
With vermouth-based cocktails like negronis (and their baby sister, sbagliatos) and martinis making headlines and gaining increased popularity over the last few years, it’s no wonder that vermouths are trending in 2023. Vermouth is essentially fortified wine and is a staple in classic cocktails like the ones above, but if you want to nail this trend, drink it over ice or topped up with tonic or soda water, for a refreshing pre-dinner drink. Bonus future trend alert: Another trending spirit starting to make its way to South Africa is amaro – a herbaceous digestif, often served after dinner over ice.
Less ‘plant-based’, more plants
Plant-based diets as a whole have become less of a trend over the last while, having made their way into the mainstream. Instead, this year’s play on plant-based eating is more focused on plants themselves. Where faux meats and diets were the focus in previous years (which are now falling out of favour, according to global trend analysts), in 2023, expect to see humble, whole veg put back in the spotlight. We’re talking cabbages, cauliflowers and all manners of squash, as well as lesser-known veggies such as celeriac and ube, all being given the hero treatment. It’s worth noting that ube, a purple Filipino yam, has been touted as *the* vegetable to watch this year.
Persimmons, or Sharon fruit here in South Africa, are set to be the sleeper hit this year. While they’re wonderful to eat as is, they’re especially good in salads, or simply assembled with some salty feta cheese or creamy mozzarella and toasted walnuts. Finish with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Fish in a can isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Following on from last year’s fishy frenzy, 2023 will see even more tinned fish in the form of tuna, mackerel and salmon. This year, however, you’ll see them used not just on toasts and in salads, but cooked into dishes too – we’re talking tinned tuna fishcakes, homemade mackerel pâtés and fancy salmon pasta. Anchovies are finally getting their moment in the sun this year, too. Where usually they’re snuck into dishes as a secret flavour bomb, this year, they’ll be left whole on top of dishes, in all their tiny, briny glory. Nail this trend at home by making bruschetta, topped with a generous blob of butter and a single anchovy. Or, incorporate it into another microtrend, a Gilda – a Basque pintxos that features a pickled guindilla pepper, a green olive and an anchovy, all skewered onto a toothpick. It’s the ultimate celebration of anchovy’s characteristic flavour.
Local foods will always be a trend and this year is no different. Grains such as amaranth, sorghum and tiger nut will become even more mainstream. Big retailers have already clocked this trend and made it even easier to incorporate these foods into your cooking, stocking them in whole or even flour forms. Add them to salads, soups or stews, or use the flours in baking to add even more flavour to baked goods.
While this cured meat still has a way to go before it fully gets the attention it deserves in South Africa, mortadella is blowing up everywhere in the world, so keep an eye out for it. Made of finely ground pork and studded with fat, mortadella makes for an excellent sandwich, but you can also strew it over piping-hot pizzas and toss it through pastas with wilted greens and finish with roasted pistachios.
We’re talking chilli oils, chilli crisps, and chilli sauces in general. If there’s chilli in it, it’s trending this year. Home cooks began replicating the iconic Lao Gan Ma chilli crisp last year, but the popularity isn’t waning anytime soon. Whether you make your own or buy a bottle, there are few places you can’t use chilli oil. We love it on pizzas, pasta, noodle dishes, brothy soups and over avocado toast with eggs.
As consumers look for more sustainable ingredients and foods, kelp is showing up on more restaurant menus and will become a regular feature in home kitchens. Because of its briny, seafood notes, it can be eaten as a snack, added to soups for deeper umami or even used as a ‘fishless’ fish sauce.