Food Innovation Safari: Shio Koji Venison and The Godfather Burger
In the first of our new series on food and drink trailblazers from around the world, we highlight and discuss three innovative dishes that caught our eye on Instagram this month
All across the world, the best and brightest in food and drink regularly take to social media to showcase new dishes, discuss game-changing techniques and ingredients, and provide insight into ongoing menu development, with Instagram a seemingly eternal vault for on-trend dish ideas and pioneering kitchen concepts.
When it comes to restaurant trend research and analysis, tapping and translating this stream of inspiration is a cornerstone for every food and drink insight operation.
Here at Egg Soldiers, we’re experts at uncovering actionable trend and development insight for the UK hospitality industry, with our monthly Food Innovation Safari series highlighting some of our favourite food and drink innovators, their latest social media reveals, and our actionable takeaways from each.
As food trends go, burgers are fairly immortal. Succulent, juicy and, more often than not, oozing melted cheese; burgers are always part of the conversation when considering comforting, indulgent foods.
And while plant-based iterations continue to be a big industry talking point, the classic beef burger will always be a moneymaker, with booming street food trends empowering the fleets of innovative food trucks and pioneering pop-ups seeking to elevate the comfort food favourite.
Funky Chicken Food Truck in Sweden is a great example. Offering a small, ever-changing menu of simple yet decadent beef burgers, fries and ‘New York-style’ chicken over rice; the street food spot has been an award-winning mainstay in Stockholm for a number of years, with ‘The Godfather’ one of their hero burgers this October.
We’re talking two mustard-smashed beef patties, melted cheddar cheese, Parmesan-bacon mayonnaise, crispy onions and grilled paprika peppers in a fluffy potato bun.
Potato for the win
Look to potato buns when crafting classic beef burgers. Delivering soft, moist textures, they’re fast becoming a go-to for innovators in this space.
Don’t afraid to be dirty
Comfort-craving consumers want gooey, Insta-worthy decadence when it comes to beef burgers. Just remember to stock extra napkins.
Keep it simple
The Godfather is a flavour-forward showstopper with a small number of components, exactly what a classic beef burger should be.
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Hot 4 U, a quirky and creative food operation with a passion for the disruptive, continues to make waves in East London.
Founded during lockdown by Matthew Scott, ex-head chef at Cub, and former St John and Solo chef Eddy Tejada; Hot 4 U has recently earned rave reviews for a number of gastropub residencies, with The Haggerston in Dalston now showcasing the team’s playfully indulgent menus.
Earlier this month, Hot 4 U revealed a new dish: Creamed Leek, Potato and Taleggio Vol-Au-Vents. Served on nostalgic black and white-checkered napkins, delivering 1970s American diner vibes; the vol-au-vents, made by North London bakery Barnsbury Bakehouse, are filled with fermented pink fir potato, creamed mustard leeks and cured egg yolk.
The pastry is topped with a deep-fried triangle of Taleggio (a semi-soft, Brie-esque Italian cheese) and decorated with a smiley face made of coal-roasted apple sauce.
'Fun dining' is in
Amid times of uncertainty due to the ongoing cost of living crisis, consumers are gravitating towards the playful and nostalgic. Those combining higher-end techniques with down-to-earth dish descriptors and designs are finding a new audience.
The key for Hot 4 U is that the shackles are off. There's no calorie counting here. Quite the opposite, with the team finding sustained wins by harnessing decadent combos of indulgent ingredients. Let your imagination run wild - it's what the new comfort food movement is all about.
Collaborate with like-minded chefs
Pop-ups continue to be popular, particularly with the casual diner. Time and money permitting, explore potential collaborations with innovators to bring creative culinary ideas to life. You never know, it may take off.
Heads up – Luke French has his development chef hat on.
The Sheffield-based innovator, co-founder of the modern British-meets-Asian restaurant, Jöro, is testing out new dish combos, flavours and textures, recently showcasing an ongoing experiment: shio koji-brined venison saddle.
We’re particularly interested in the rice-based mould, koji, as its able to impart huge umami boosts, tenderize meat, or even act as a salt replacer [link].
Here, French is harnessing shio koji – a traditional Japanese condiment and marinade made from rice koji, salt and water – to tenderize his salt-aged venison saddle (shio koji effectively speeds up natural ageing and fermentation processes, breaking down meat proteins at a rate).
Having been ‘kojified’, the saddle was roasted on the bone then gently rested over cherry wood smoke, and brushed with fat for added flavour.
The plan, it seems, is to serve with a citrusy/spicy kosho (a Japanese seasoning/paste) made from a type of tangerine and amarillo peppers, and dressed with a sauce of grilled pickled girolles, squash, cep, brown butter and soy.
Discover the far-reaching benefits of Japan’s ‘national fungus’ when developing dishes. And not just with meat-based options. Explore plant-based or even dairy-based applications for gamechanging results.
Cherry on top
Cherry wood is excellent for smoking 'gamey' meat like venison, imparting mildly sweet smoked flavours. Peach wood is also a good choice here, as it delivers similar sweetness with which to build from.
A remarkably versatile and well-loved condiment, kosho marries citrus and spicy flavours marvellously. Like French, work with fruit and chilli peppers to develop your own, be it for a creative dip, marinade or standalone dish element.
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