Memos from Asia

Emerging Food Trends in Quarantine

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While trending food items do come and go, they seem to do so at an accelerated pace nowadays.

Which of these quarantine food trends have you tried?

The imposition of various levels of community quarantine and their resulting restrictions have greatly impacted dining experiences, whether at restaurants or in the home. Money has also become a concern; many industries have significantly slowed down, resulting in layoffs and pay cuts, reducing the budgets that used to be allotted to food.

These conditions have made food manufacturers, restaurateurs, and even home cooks rethink how they bring available ingredients and their skill sets to bear in addressing the still discriminating palate and the diminishing spending power of the dining public.

Making the everyday extraordinary

Rather than feed their family members the same ho-hum fare for seemingly interminable months while in lockdown, home cooks have hacked their way into whipping up extraordinary dishes and drinks using everyday ingredients they have on-hand.

Dalgona Coffee.

Just by whisking together equal parts of powdered coffee, sugar and water results in a rich and creamy topping that makes your hot or cold milk an Instagram-worthy creation. Other variations for this have emerged, still using powdered drinks such as Milo and Strawberry which can easily be found in any pantry or at the nearest convenience store.

Coffee trend – dalgona coffee, whipped instant coffee. cream coffee, iced coffee

Instant Noodle Hacks.

Who would have thought that the humble instant ramen or instant pancit canton that used to tide you over until the next meal can itself be a showstopping dish? By adding a few extra ingredients to your instant noodles, you can serve up a jjapaguri (made popular by the Korean film Parasite), pad thai (a nutty Thai noodle dish) or stir-fry noodles.

Canned Food Variations.

Canned food can be found in almost every kitchen; they mostly serve as back-up meals when fresh ingredients are not immediately available. While ways to spruce up the style and presentation of canned food have been around for some time, they are more prevalent during quarantine. Corned Chicken Burgers, Aglio Olio with Karne Norte Bits, and homemade Spam Musubi prove that the canned food larder is a treasure trove of yummy possibilities.

Homemade Healthy Musubi Rice and Meat Sandwich from Hawaii

Dessert Hacks.

Those ready-made cakes and snacks that kids used to munch on during recess are being remade into picture-perfect confections. Chocolate biscuits being made into mug cakes and packaged cupcakes crushed to serve as cake bases for no-bake crema de fruta or strawberry shortcake illustrate how raiding your kiddos’ baon stash can lead to sweet discoveries.

Lemon Square Recipes
(Photo Credit: Angelica Jose)

Baking to De-Stress

Baking has emerged as one of the quarantine’s most popular pastimes. Stress levels are rising due to the many uncertainties and fears brought about by the pandemic. People have turned to baking to distract themselves from their worries. Baking, through its well-ordered instructions and exact measurements, gives people a sense of routine and control in an otherwise chaotic world.


These little pieces of joy are quite easy to make: a mixture of flour, sugar and oil or fat can be spruced up with the addition or chocolate chips, nuts, peanut butter and even candy, bringing about lots of delightful variations that cookie fans can enjoy.

Homemade freshly baked oatmeal and fruits cookies

Banana Bread.

This quarantine treat is quite easy to make: it doesn’t require working with yeast, kneading, rolling and other processes that intimidate newbie bakers. It also addresses the issue of food waste: banana bread makes use of bananas nearing spoilage. Who could have imagine that so much good can come out of making the humble banana bread?

Banana Loaf Three Ways (
(Photo Credit: Angelica Jose)

Sourdough Bread.

Apparently, aside from toilet paper and rubbing alcohol, dry yeast also became scarce at the start of the quarantine due to panic buying. This led to the rediscovery of sourdough bread which does not require dry yeast, just the “sourdough starter” made by mixing flour and water. Plus, sourdough bread has the additional benefit of being healthier than regular bread; the starter facilitates the absorption of vitamins and minerals found in wheat by the body.

Ube Cheese De Sal.

For many Pinoys, starting their day involves a cup of hot coffee and a few pieces of pan de sal which they can enjoy plain or slathered with their favorite sweet or savory spreads. The ube cheese de sal upgrades the simple pan de sal by flavoring the bread itself with purple yam (also giving it that distinct purple hue) and filling it with melted cheese, combining sweet and salty flavors in each bite and giving Pinoys a delicious reason to rise and shine and shine every morning.

Tita She’s Bakery
(Photo Credit: Angelica Jose)

Bringing the resto experience at home

The restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and the resulting quarantine. Not only has the flow of customers been curtailed by restrictions on mobility but new operational protocols that prioritize physical distancing and constant sanitation lead to unmaximized floor space and added stresses on the staff.

To survive in this New Normal, some restaurants have pivoted their product offerings away from items that can only be enjoyed while dining in the restaurant premises. Instead, they looked for ways to deliver up their signature dishes to their customers’ homes. This pivot came with two challenges: how to make their offerings portable while still retaining the wow factor that earned their customers’ loyalty in the first place, or serve as the come-on for new clientele.

Baked Sushi.

This deconstruction of sushi rolls also gained popularity during the quarantine. While we may not be able to witness the artistry of sushi chefs as they masterfully slice and roll raw fish in rice and fruit pieces into fresh sushi creations, we can sate our hunger with this more portable sushi offshoot because all the ingredients are already cooked.

YG Delectables
(Photo Credit: Angelica Jose)

Ramen Kits.

In the time before the quarantine, you would be hard-pressed to find a ramen restaurant that will allow you to have your ramen bowl to-go. Their concerns on maintaining the quality of the ramen (such as the optimum heat of the broth, the crispness of the toppings and the firmness of the noodles) while in transit has been addressed by creative packaging. By separating the various ramen elements and packaging them as kits, they enabled the home-bound ramen lover to assemble their favorite ramen at home.

Frozen Packs.

Sometimes, your favorite resto may have a distinct blend or marinade that you will always crave for. Luckily, many of these restaurants now offer their products in pre-marinated or -seasoned frozen packs that you can just cook at home. Not only do these make the work of the home cook easier, they also allow you to whip up your favorite resto dishes at home.

Mang Ding’s Marikina
(Photo Credit: Angelica Jose)

Bottled Cocktails.

Bars are even harder hit by the pandemic than restaurants given that most of their offerings are premised on on-site dining. However, enterprising bar owners have begun bottling their signature cocktails, allowing their patrons to drink up their favorite mixes in the comforts of home.

After Hours Bar Bottled Cocktails
(Photo Credit: Angelica Jose)

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