Innovate Blog
Food On-The-Go Trend 2017 – A crispy texture that will make you lose your tempura

Tuesday October 24, 2017

According to Asian grocer Win Yip, Japanese food is the nation’s third most popular oriental cuisine, following closely behind Thai and Chinese food. Win Yip also go on to say that the number of Japanese eateries in the UK increased by 67 per cent between 2012 and 2017, making it the fastest growing form of Asian cuisine in the UK market.

In a new series of blogs for 2017 we’re bringing food operators the latest trends for the on-the-go food market. From Acai bowls and Poke, to Bao burgers and rolled ice-cream – we’ll be taking a close look at the must-have dishes essential for any 2017 take-out menu; and we’ll be exploring why these dishes have risen to popularity so quickly.

Why has Japanese cuisine become so popular? Well, according to Paul Hopper, founder of the Hop Vietnamese ‘street eats’ operation, chains are a significant factor here. “Credit is due to the likes of Itsu and Wasabi who have played a huge part in making Japanese food more accessible to Londoners – they have managed to make the cuisine an everyday choice” – The numbers prove it.

More and more restaurants are starting to offer Japanese dishes such as sushi, katsu curry, bao buns, mochi, ramen, yakisoba, tempura and miso soup. One of the most popular Japanese dishes, tempura, was listed on NRA’s Top Trends list in 2016.

Tempura is a classic Portuguese way of cooking brought to and popularized by Japan, consisting of dipping vegetables and seafood into batter, then deep frying.

To prepare tempura, the tempura batter (normally made from plain flour, egg, baking soda and corn flour) must be freshly mixed, using cold water, and left slightly lumpy, with plenty of air bubbles trapped in it – this is what gives the batter a crisp texture when fried. Ingredients such as seafood or vegetables are then dipped into the batter to create a thin, light coating that will fry quickly.

In Japan the main ingredients used in tempura are prawns, vegetables, shrimps, calamari and lotus roots. As tempura has gained popularity, more unusual ingredients have been utilised – like fruit, and even ice-cream.

In Osaka, Japan, you can now try deliciously sweet tempura maple leaves. The crispy treat, called Momiji, are made by frying Japanese maple leaves in a sweet tempura batter.

Momiji is served with a side of Japanese maple syrup, however, traditionally, savoury tempura is served with a special tempura sauce made from a mix of dashi (Japanese stock), soy sauce and grated daikon – a mild flavoured winter radish.

At high-end Japanese dining restaurants like NOBU, London, tempura is simply served with a sprinkling of salt to enjoy the crisp texture of the freshly-cooked batter. Some restaurants sprinkle the tempura with unique salt mixtures such as curry powder, matcha (green tea powder), or ume (Japanese plums), giving a modern twist to traditional tempura.

Tempura can also be enjoyed on top of soba, ramen or udon noodles, or in a rice bowl topped with an egg (a very popular breakfast dish in Japan).

Serving tempura to be eaten on the go requires packaging that can handle piping hot food, and can be held in one hand, freeing the other hand up to eat it. Sometimes tempura will have a slightly oily residue, so a coated inner to the packaging is also a must.

At Bunzl Catering Supplies we recommend serving tempura in SmartServ carryout containers, manufactured by supplier Fold-Pak or Hot ‘n’Crispy bags, manufactured by supplier Smith Anderson.

SmartServ carryout containers are an innovative approach to carryout. The patented cup-like structure can be used for many different foods – it’s functional, made from sustainable natural resources and cost effective too. SmartServ is available in white, in 3 sizes; 16oz, 26oz and 32oz, and can be custom printed with your own logo and design.

Hot ‘n’Crispy bags deliver a great eating experience, as the bag retains the core temperature of hot products for 10-15 minutes, whilst retaining their crispiness. Hot ‘n’Crispy bags are ideal for tempura, as well as hot sandwiches, paninis or baguettes. Available in white or brown grease-proof papers, they can be printed with your own logo and design.

The advantages of printing your own logo and design on food packaging is that it promotes recognition and differentiates you from your competitors. Branding also provides the consumer with clarity and creates trust and a sense of a more premium food offering.

To find out more about our tempura packaging options and branded packaging, please contact your local Bunzl Catering Supplies branch today.

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