Heading into 2017, many food experts predicted that yogurt (Bon Appetit and The Telegraph) and harissa (NRA and F&DR) would be rising stars during the year, but so far, three other sauces have stolen the spotlight: romesco, chimichurri and vegetable coulis.
We track the menus at one-hundred fine dining restaurants in NYC, and the charts below show the number of times each sauce appeared on the menus. As you can see, these establishments have been adding romesco, chimichurri and vegetable coulis sauces to their menus at a rapid pace.
In the sections below, we have given some background on the three trending sauces, and described new ways that chefs are using them.
Romesco, was originally developed in Spain many years ago, but the orange sauce is still gaining popularity in the United States. Its foundation is typically roasted red peppers and toasted almonds. These ingredients are blended along with parsley, garlic, cayenne, paprika, red wine vinegar, and olive oil to create a thick, dip-like sauce with powerful flavor.
Romesco, pictured here, has historically been used alongside fish, but it is currently being put to use in a wide variety of dishes. In fact, the sauce transports scrambled eggs from an everyday breakfast dish to a culinary star worthy of the menu at Bobby Flay’s Gato (the eggs are served with almond romesco, boucheron cheese, and tomato confit toast).
Notably, Romesco is currently being used in many dishes featuring octopus, another menu item whose usage has escalated in recent years.
Creative variations of the sauce include a ‘Hibiscus Romesco’ at Jean-Georges’ Perry St and a ‘Beet Romesco’ at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill.
This flavorful green sauce is by no means a newcomer to the New York restaurant scene, but so far this year, several restaurants such as Park Avenue Spring and Cookshop have added the sauce to their menus.
Chimichurri, pictured here, originates from Argentina and is most commonly used alongside various cuts of beef. The ingredients that go into a classic green chimichurri include parsley, oregano, garlic, oil and white vinegar. The garlic and herbs are finely chopped and mixed with the oil and vinegar. Red pepper flakes are often added as well for an extra kick.
Although that’s how the sauce has historically been used, the creative chefs behind NYC’s fine dining scene have added their own flair and invented unique uses for Chimichurri.
For instance, restaurants are re-tooling the sauce to play nicely with fish dishes like Park Avenue Spring’s ‘Seared Hamachi Crudo’ which is served with a grilled pineapple chimichurri, and Sea Fire Grill’s ‘Roasted Nova Scotia Halibut’ which is served with a kale chimichurri. Taking meat out of the picture completely, Vandal’s ‘Baby Beets’ dish features a chimichurri enhanced with shiso.
A coulis is simply defined as a thick, but smooth, sauce made from puréed fruits or vegetables. The fruit variant is traditionally used as a garnish for dessert dishes, while vegetable coulis are commonly used in dishes showcasing seafood or red meat. It is the vegetable variety that has begun to appear on menus more frequently with restaurants such as Clement and Narcissa adding coulis to their menus in the past month.
Coulis are typically produced by sautéing a chosen vegetable and adding a liquid such as broth or cream. Once the liquid is significantly reduced, the mixture is puréed and added to a dish, enhancing not only its flavor, but its aesthetic appeal as well.
On the menus that we track, coulis are most often served alongside seafood dishes such as Asiate’s ‘Seared Icelandic Cod’ which utilizes a tomato coulis. Additionally, Narcissa is currently serving a ‘Roasted Dorade’ with a leek coulis.
From a red meat perspective, Clement just introduced a ‘Rack of Lamb’ dish which is served with a bell pepper coulis.
Not be left out, black truffle is used in a coulis in Batard’s ‘Celeriac Tortellini’ dish.
The Sauce Landscape
So how do romesco, chimichurri and coulis fit into the broader sauce landscape? To add context to their increased usage, below is a ranking of the top fifty types of sauces used by chefs in NYC as of March 2017.
For more tables like this, check out our food trend tracker (it is updated monthly).