Food trends for 2022: potato milk, dessert boards and sea moss

Plus: vegan vacations, canned seafood and all things umami

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If you are what you eat, let our picks of this new year’s food fads make you at once happier, healthier and more extravagant.

Here are some ingredients and trends to look out for:

The trend: potato milk

Move over oat, see you later soy and adieu almond. Potato milk is the plant-based, non-dairy milk alternative that’s going to steal the latte limelight in 2022.

It’s already popular in ahead-of-the-game Sweden, and we’re predicting this is the year potato milk will go global.

While it might sound like a carb-dodger's nightmare, the creamy liquid produced by heating and emulsifying humble spuds with rapeseed oil has a whole lot going for it. For a start, potato milk is low in saturated fat and sugar, cholesterol-free, has a calcium count equivalent to cow’s milk and doesn’t contain common allergens such as lactose, nuts or gluten. What’s more, it’s ecologically conscious and easier on the environment to produce than both almond and soy milk. And no, before you ask, it doesn’t taste of potatoes …

Try it: Hopefully soon at a coffee shop near you. Or you can just make your own.

The trend: umami paste

You’ve no doubt already heard of umami, the much talked about yet oft-elusive basic taste that sits alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty in the flavour profile. Roughly translating to "essence of deliciousness" in Japanese, the likes of Parmesan, miso, soy sauce and mushrooms are renowned for the umami heft they lend to dishes.

Now we see that moreish flavour quite literally captured and bottled up to make a fifth taste paste that, according to experts, is specifically intended to appeal to our increasingly sophisticated palates.

Typically made from ingredients such as tomato puree, black olives, mushroom powder, garlic and vinegar, umami paste is the thinking cook's condiment of choice for the coming year – a supercharged store cupboard secret weapon that amps up all manner of dishes, adding depth of flavour and desirability in just a few drops.

Try it: Order umami paste online in the UAE from noon, Desertcart or Amazon. Once you’ve procured a pot, dot over fried eggs, mix with mayo for a next-level burger sauce, use to elevate meatballs, pasta sauces and stews, and slather over chicken, fish or veggies before roasting.

The trend: return of the 1990s

It all started in the fashion world. High-street brands that were all the rage 20 years ago were suddenly much coveted as vintage finds, Gen-Z TikTokers began sporting bootcut jeans, Rihanna took to wearing trucker hats and Bella Hadid donned an oversized, Y2K-inspired Nike tracksuit. Add to that the glorious reunion of Bennifer (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez) and the Sex and the City reboot and you’ve got yourself a late 1990s-early 2000s cultural revival going on.

In 2022, the food world will swiftly follow suit with ingredients and dishes previously considered passe making a full-on comeback. That means sun-dried tomatoes everywhere; baked Brie en croute appearing on menus without a trace of irony; supermarket pesto and creamy Boursin cheese being given some serious love; and the likes of Lunchables once again being the lunch box filler of choice for school children.

Try it: Blaze a nostalgia-driven trail and make your next party a 1990s-inspired one.

The trend: vegan vacations

As veganism continues to grow in popularity, we’re speculating that vegan-forward holidays are set to fully assert themselves on the global travel scene, with post-pandemic travellers refusing to compromise on their healthy lifestyle even while on holiday.

From companies offering all-new plant-focused eating tours of gastronomic giants – think Spain, Japan, Thailand and Italy – to luxury cruises where all the food and drink (including riffs on regional dishes) is served up from 100 per cent vegan kitchens, this area of the travel sector is going to boom.

Websites promoting meat-free travel and offering recommendations for vegan-specific restaurants and accommodation will only become more comprehensive, and entirely vegan hotels serving up gourmet eating experiences aimed firmly at the plant curious, such as The Treehouse in Los Angeles and Scotland’s Saorsa 1875, will be joined by others.

Try it: Travel companies such as Intrepid offer Vegan Food Adventure tours, Vegan Travel runs vegan cruises and VeggieHotels is a great resource for vegetarian and vegan hotels worldwide.

The trend: canned seafood revolution

Long touted as a delicacy by the food-forward Spanish, it’s only a matter of time before the masses realise there are gourmet tastes galore to be found in tiny-but-punchy cans of speciality seafood.

Let’s be clear, we’re not talking about cheap, tasteless tuna here. The huge attention to detail in the fishing, processing, cooking and canning of these ingredients is absolutely reflected in their delicious flavour. With that in mind, you can expect to see the likes of top-quality canned bonito tuna fillets, fleshy, salt-encrusted anchovies, razor clams in brine and meaty mussels not just popping up on high-end restaurant menus, but also being name-checked as chic ingredients of choice in cookbooks and food television shows and lining the pantry shelves of all your keen cook friends.

Try it: Purchase premium canned seafood in the UAE from websites such as Secrets Fine Food and Classic Fine Foods.

The trend: say hello to sea moss

It’s a tough call, but if there’s one ingredient that’s going to be catapulted from relative obscurity to the foodie mainstream over the next 12 months, we think it might just be sea moss.

Otherwise known as Irish moss, this sustainable, gut-friendly seaweed is already making waves on social media. AI-driven food intelligence platform Tastewise recently reported that conversations relating to sea moss were up 384 per cent in 2021 compared to the previous year, while also highlighting that this interest is likely to peak in 2022.

Commonly used as thickening agent and viable vegan alternative to gelatin, much of the buzz about the purported superfood is because of the high levels of zinc and folate it contains, and a subsequent reputation for boosting fertility in women.

Try it: Purchase sea moss online in the UAE from Desertcart, Whizz and Ubuy AE.

The trend: sugary sharing boards

Gourmet lamingtons will have their moment and mochi is destined to become more mainstream, but the sweet trend that we’re going to remember 2022 for is the dessert board.

Essentially a sugar-laden version of the original cheese platter or charcuterie selection, the dessert board is a talking point that adds an interactive dimension to the end of the meal, much like the chocolate fountain of 20-or-so years ago.

Sharing platters are filled with a smorgasbord of desserts; think puddings-in-miniature, candies, cookies, cakes, macaroons, caramelised nuts, popcorn and fresh fruit, and everyone is then encouraged to tuck in. Execution can be as simple or extravagant as you like (make each element from scratch or go store-bought), which only adds to the appeal.

We’re putting it out there that not only will this quickly become next year’s dessert of choice at weddings, baby showers and every brunch in town, but you’ll soon be able to order dessert boards online and have them delivered as ready-assembled, pre-packaged gifts, too.

Try it: While you wait for it to turn up on the pudding menu at your favourite restaurant, search #dessertboard on Instagram for many a masterclass on how to put your own version together.

Updated: January 02, 2022, 5:08 AM