Asia-Pacific food trends: Plant-based movement revitalizes traditional Japanese, Indonesian and Malay recipes
Japanese plant-based yakiniku meats and peanut-based chicken debut in retail and foodservice partnerships
16 Apr 2021 --- Asia’s rapidly evolving food scene is revitalized with new regional plant-based launches inspiring new iterations of traditional cuisine staples. Tokyo-based Next Meat has unveiled vegan Japanese yakiniku grilled meat in Singapore, while peanut-based chicken from Haofood debuted in Chinese and Indonesian recipes through various partnerships in Shanghainese foodservice.
These moves are timely, as retail sales of meat alternatives in Asia-Pacific grew to an estimated US$1 billion in 2020, according to Innova Market Insights. The market researcher reports robust sales growth in this category, with a projected CAGR of 9.1 percent by value and 8.65 percent by volume forecasted for the period 2019 to 2022.
“We all know eating meat is less sustainable, but it’s an important part of so many traditional menus,” says Astrid Prajogo, CEO of Haofood, the start-up behind peanut-based alternative chicken.
“So plant-based meat is one one of the ways to preserve this, because we can continue our culinary heritage but also respect the Earth.”
World’s first plant-based yakiniku meats
Ten months after its establishment, Next Meats, the Tokyo-based alternative meat brand behind industry’s first plant-based yakiniku meats, has made its debut in the alternative protein hotspot of Singapore.
The company is collaborating with the Japanese restaurant Aburi-EN, where two types of meal sets using the Next Kalbi (short rib) will be available.
This is the first time that a Japanese company’s alternative meats were offered in a chain restaurant in Singapore. Next Meats also reports the partnership has attracted significant attention from influencers, with the introduction of Aburi-EN’s first-ever plant-based menus.
Made largely from soy proteins, the Next Kalbi contains double the amount of protein and half the fats than that of regular meat. It also does not contain any chemical additives or cholesterol due to its lack of animal ingredients.
The two menus available at Aburi-EN are the Kalbi Don Set and the Stamina Teishoku.
For the Kalbi Don Set, Next Meat’s Kalbi is grilled and served atop a bowl of fragrant Japanese steamed rice. Meanwhile, the brand’s Stamina Teishoku features the Kalbi stir-fried with cabbage along with eggs imported from Okinawa.
The meat is then served with Japanese steamed rice, salad, pickles and miso soup. For both dishes, the meats are glazed with a special homemade sauce that packs an umami punch.
Kalsec and Kerry have continued to place emphasis on a spiked interest in Asian flavors, dishes and meal formats.Even with the previous postponing of the Tokyo Olympics, key industry players including
Plant-based Japanese barbecue meats
Next Meats also recently launched its signature plant-based barbecue meats Next Kalbi and Harami (short-rib and skirt steak style, respectively) in the meat section of Ito Yokado, a Japanese superstore chain.
This is the first time the Next Meats products are going to be sold in a retail store alongside regular animal produce in the market, giving the plant-based meats a strong positioning and opportunity to reach new customers.
Plant-based meats are becoming increasingly popular and available in Japan, but most products were typically displayed in the soy products, dried foods or preserved food sections, which the company notes as a contributing factor to consumers’ lack of interest and association with protein alternatives.
However with a superstore chain like Ito Yokado displaying Next Meat’s plant-based meats alongside animal meat, it anticipates that this “paradigm shift” may boost consumer perceptions of alternative proteins as an equally sufficient source of protein as regular meat.
Last January, Next Meat was listed on the US over-the-counter (OTC) market.
Haofood rolls out peanut-based chicken in foodservice
Haofood has formed a partnership with five restaurants in Shanghai, China, each offering authentic dishes from various cultural cuisines featuring peanut-based chicken.
“We want to unite the past, present and future,” says Prajogo. “The past being traditional menus by dedicated chefs, the future being plant-based meat, and the present being customers’ experiences today.”
The five restaurants using Haofood’s products to revitalise their cultures’ dishes are Green Friday, Topolino, STYX, Wrap and Roll, and The Pawon.
Each of Haofood’s partners brings something unique to the table. Wrap and Roll turns Haofood’s chicken into mini burgers, wrap and salad bowls.
Green Friday, specializing in plant-based dishes, marries popular Chinese dishes la zi ji (stir-fried chicken infused with Sichuan spices) and gong bao ji ding (stir-fried chicken, peanuts and vegetables) with peanut-based chicken from Haofood.
The Pawon presents authentic Indonesian chicken dishes sate ayam (skewered grilled meat), ayam rendang (chicken stew with coconut milk) and dabu-dabu (grilled chicken).
STYX’s menu is inspired by the Southeast Asian street food scene with dishes including chicken satay, chicken curry rice, chicken bites and fusion tacos.
Meanwhile, Topolino offers a variety of Sicilan comfort foods from pizza and pasta to salads and paninis.
Honoring Malay food culture
In other regional developments, Fonterra Brands Malaysia’s food service arm, Anchor Food Professionals, has kicked off its “Inspirasi Raya” campaign with the unveiling of ten traditional dishes reinvented using the Anchor Extra Yield Cooking Cream.
Formulated for heat stability and creamier consistency, the Anchor Extra Yield Cooking Cream is marketed as an alternative to santan, coconut milk.
Recipes curated include a variation of state-famous Raya staples such as rendang tok (dry, nutty rendang) and rendang ayam pedas from Perak (spicy rendang) and rendang kambing hitam (rendang with goat) from Pahang, to further inspire the celebration of traditional Ramadan and Raya dishes.
Step-by-step recipes and demonstration videos incorporating the Anchor Extra Yield Cooking Cream were made possible with the help of Fonterra’s in-house chefs, Noorfiruz Mohamad Noor, Ichiro Wong and Chrispian Arthur Epui.
“Following the COVID-19 pandemic, home cooking has been the choice for many families. We wanted to provide home cooks with an accessible solution that serves the entire family's sophisticated yet simple culinary-at-home delights.”
“Cooking and preparing for a feast during Raya is usually the highlight of the celebration. It has been a challenging year for all of us, and we hope that sharing these recipes will bring light, joy and happiness to those celebrating, near and far.”
The remake of the dishes elevates the experience of Raya-feast preparations, which many Malaysians can relate to intimately.
The Anchor Extra Yield Cooking Cream is made from a high quality New Zealand milk source. It is a pre-reduced cooking cream with a 20 percent better yield than most UHT cooking creams for time and cost savings.
Uelzena and FrieslandCampina Ingredients have each previously noted that Asia, in particular, is seeing significant growth for traditional and premium dairy products.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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