Saveur 100: Tastes like 2016
Spice expert Lior Lev Sercarz explains his picks for this year’s biggest flavors
No new year is without its predictions: which restaurants will everyone love, which ingredients will earn the title “superfood,” all that jazz. But what will the New Year taste like? That’s what we really want to know. So we turned to Lior Lev Sercarz, a leading spice merchant and proprietor of La Boîte, a Manhattan shop where he blends spices for some of the world’s best restaurants.
We asked him to look into his crystal ball of tastes to create a blend just for us (and you) that uses all the flavors he thinks are going to be trending this year.
Here it is, the official Taste of 2016, in powder form. Since there is a growing interest in the heavily spiced flavors of the Middle East and Mediterranean, Sercarz’s blend looks to Oman (the birthplace of dried limes, which Sercarz loves for their potency) and Turkey (home to Urfa biber, a dried chile with chocolate notes). He also combines the old and trending (nigella seeds) with the new and trending (coffee flour, made from the by-product of coffee roasting), and uses powdered liquids (soy sauce and vinegar), as he’s noticed chefs doing in their restaurant kitchens.
All together, the Taste of 2016 is “very bright,” Sercarz says. “It tastes nutty and sour, with a hint of acidity and the perfect amount of heat.”
He recommends sprinkling it on roasted duck, braised short ribs, beet salad, and grilled octopus. When people ask you what that mysterious spice is, just tell them it’s the taste of right now.
3 dried black limes, crushed by hand
3 tbsp. Urfa biber
2 tbsp. nigella seeds
4 tsp. coffee flour
2 tsp. soy sauce powder
2 tsp. white vinegar powder
In a spice grinder, process limes until coarsely ground. Scrape the ground limes into a bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients until evenly combined. Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.