Creativity is the best friend of sauce. Being the tip of the flavour pyramid, a change in sauce can completely change the character of a dish. The recent Research Chef’s Association annual conference in the USA saw the world’s top foodservice distributors exhibiting new products and concepts which will shape flavour in coming years.

“Consumer interest in more ethnic and exotic flavours has resulted in a rise in the use of distinct ingredients and flavours, often in unusual combinations,” said Michael Baumber, a technical specialist with Cargill. “Increasingly, fruit is a popular addition to hot sauces, providing a more balanced flavour profile. Other examples include flavoured oils, smoky blends, and new ethnic flavours such as African, Middle Eastern, Jamaican and Filipino. Consumers want new food experiences that they can share with friends and family.”

Hot sauce has moved away from jalapeños, with chefs looking at alternative chillies to develop unique flavours. Chipotle has seen a revival in the last five years, with the smoky flavour appealing to the new Western obsession with barbecue culture.

“Baklouti peppers work wonderfully well in North African style cuisines, used with some preserved lemons and chopped dates to create a great balance of hot, spicy, sour and sweet,” said Baumber. “They are perfect for a warming tagine. Serrano peppers are similar to jalapeños but much hotter. Add some of these to your chilli sauce to pack a punch. If you want a milder chilli hit, add the chilli whole to any sauce you are cooking and remove before serving. The result will be a warming, spicy back note.”

Fermented foods and beverages are currently riding the wave of popularity on the back of kombucha and sauerkraut, delivering authentic, ethnic flavours to recipes as well as offering health benefits for consumers. Kimchi and other Korean flavours are making a comeback with Korean tacos with kimchi and bulgogi sauce identified as a common dish appearing on menus around the world.