Pizza, Rice, and Everything Spice

Online conversations have been full of Asian cuisine mentions. Consumers are trending towards mash-up dishes — infusing traditional comfort foods like pizza and pasta with the cuisine’s harmonious and characteristic balance of textures, temperatures, and flavors. While countries maintain distinct identities, their cuisines share many staple ingredients and cooking methods, especially when it comes to spice.

Here are some of the top trends we saw consumers experimenting with across Asian cuisines.

Japanese: Sushi, Citrus, and Sashimi Pizza

Japanese was one of the two most popular mentions when looking at Asian cuisine conversation late last year. AI cluster theme analysis showed conversations were mostly dominated by sushi lovers (8 million mentions and a net sentiment of 70%). Within sushi chatter, citrus was trending as posts featured citrus ponzu sauces, citrus aiolis, and citrus rice. Other trends included miso-glazed eggplant (sometimes called aubergine) and a creative new use for seafood: sashimi pizza.

Sushi with spicy mayo, citrus ponzu, seared yuzu mayo and tobiko
“Tempura Prawn Sushi with Spicy Mayo, Citrus Ponzu, Seared Yuzu Mayo and Tobiko.” @thehappyskillet
Asian aubergine
“Whenever I go to a Japanese/Pan Asian restaurant I’m always on the aubergine hunt! Creamy texture with a sweet and umami flavour – heaven!” @girlwhobrunches
Sashimi pizza with bluefin tuna
Sashimi pizza, my favorite way to eat bluefin tuna.” @livingoffthelandandsea

Korean: Barbeque

Korean food also topped the charts in Asian cuisine conversation, with Korean BBQ causing the largest number of peaks. Mentions were up 80% from 2019 to 2020 as consumers continued to seek flavorful comfort foods. Pork belly seemed to be the favorite for satisfying cravings with its bold flavor, while gochujang was a popular paste used to add a sweet and spicy Asian flair.

Korean braised spicy beef
“This fall-off-the-bone tender braised spicy beef was a big hit…Although it took a long time to prepare, it was rewarding to see the guys enjoys it so much. #Koreanfood” @mistyyoon
BBQ pork belly on a platter
BBQ PORK BELLY Quick tip! If you’re ordering at a Korean BBQ, pork belly is most worthwhile while chicken is least worthwhile based on amount of meat and flavour wise!”@jessmunchies
Chuck roast on a bun with gochujang sweet and spicy flavor
“A Chuck Roast kicked up a bit with the Sweet/Spicy flavors of Gochujang added an Asian flair to our homespun favorite.” @makingsbymyrna

Indian: Pasta and (More) Pizza

Pizza yet again proved to be a platform for comfortable exploration as consumers experimented with chicken and paneer tikka pizzas with spices such as masala and curry. Indian fusion pastas caused large peaks in Asian cuisine conversation, with ingredients like paneer, butter chicken, and masala finding their ways into spaghetti and macaroni dishes. South Indian cuisine in particular stood out for an elevated interest in Biryani, second only to Japanese and Korean cuisine mentions. Consumers used small appliances like the air fryer or instant pot to prepare many spicy and flavorful Biryani dishes.

Chicken tikka pizza
CHICKEN TIKKA PIZZA” –@thephillykitchen
Paneer stuffed shell pasta with cumin and tumeric served over a mint-pea sauce
“@sonalicooks is stuffing her shells w/ Paneer! Paneer is a cheese common in India, and for this recipe, it’s paired w/ spices like cumin & turmeric. The shells are served over a fresh & bright mint-pea sauce for a delicious & colorful dish.⁠” –@thefeedfeed
Spicy and flavorful biryani dish
“Some Spicy & Flavourful Chicken Biryani to give your taste buds the tingles.”

Chinese: Soup Dumplings, Street Food and “Fake out”

Following South Indian in volume of mentions was one of several popular hyper-regional Chinese cuisines: Cantonese. These cuisine mentions centered around Xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings, which were up 30% from 2019 to 2020. Consumers enjoyed ordering warm and cozy soup dumpling dishes, including mashups like French onion soup dumplings. Other peaks in Chinese conversation were tied to mentions of Zongzi, a popular street food, and a #fakeaway trend, or at-home takes on take out Chinese food. “Fake outs” included favorites like stir fry made with all the same veggies, protein, and spices but with much less salt and calories than traditional take out.

French onion soup dumplings from Mimi Cheng's restaurant
“Your day-off plans: 1. Go to @mimichengs. 2. Get the French onion soup dumplings.” @thrillest
Zongzi Chinese street food
“…a variety of savory and sweet #zongzi Slide over to see the various fillings. Some with pork and salted egg yolk, some with sausage and chicken as well as vegetarian.” @savorysweetlive

Homemade beef and vegetable stir fry
“Fancy a takeaway? How about making a #fakeaway so you can spare yourself the excess salt, sugar and MSG? This amazing beef stir-fry is ready in minutes.” @fabfitworld

Spicing Up Products and Menus with Asian Cuisine

From hot Korean wings to Japanese Yakitori-style barbeque, our teams across the globe are coming up with new ways to prepare foods and flavors that satisfy consumers. Our insights programs help inform these innovations along with our global network of chefs, food scientists, and sensory teams to strike a balance of on-trend and practical solutions:

Buldak (Hot Korean Chicken Wings): Crispy, fried chicken wings in Spicy Buldak Sauce. Korean Gochujang paste is the foundation of our Buldak sauce, giving these wings a spicy kick. This dish features our Buldak Sauce.

Spicy Szechuan Fried Chicken Sandwich: Inspired by Sichuan regional cuisine, this approachable fried chicken format combines a Szechuan pepper coating and Flavour Glaze to deliver a unique spicy QSR-friendly sandwich. This dish features our Szechuan Style Marinade, Szechuan Style Predust, Creative 5405 Red Batter, Crispy Coater, and Szechuan Style Flavour Glaze

Korean “Sanjeok Kkochi” Beef Skewers: Inspired by Korean street food, these beef skewers are marinated, fully cooked, and glazed with a spicy and sour gochujang-style seasoning and dry glaze. This dish features our Korean Style Seasoning and Gochujang Style Dry Glaze.

Chicken Tsukune Meatballs: A staple of Japanese Yakitori style BBQ, these meatballs are seasoned with ginger, soy, and garlic before being grilled and glazed with Tsukune Dry Glaze. This dish features our Tsukune Seasoned Binder and Tsukune Dry Glaze.

Buldak Hot Korean Chicken Wings
Buldak (Hot Korean Chicken Wings)
Spicy Szechuan Fried Chicken Sandwich
Spicy Szechuan Fried Chicken Sandwich
Korean Sanjeok Kkochi Beef Skewers
Korean “Sanjeok Kkochi” Beef Skewers
Chicken Tsukune Meatballs
Chicken Tsukune Meatballs

Let’s Create Better Together

We’re here to help inspire creations that keep your product portfolio on-trend. Contact your Griffith Foods representative or reach out to our sales team to learn more about our ongoing research and innovative offerings.