By Rob Corliss
November 14, 2021
Thai iced tea, starring black tea leaves steeped with warm spices, sweetened condensed milk, sugar and evaporated milk, has caught fire here over the last year, with creative iterations delighting consumers across the country. It feels natural to explore pairing spicy foods with this sweetened beverage, leveraging the intoxicating orange hue and alluring spiced sweetness of Thai tea with the consumer love for spicy-hot flavor profiles. Operators are not confined to a duo of Thai flavors here—think sweet tea and then look to both complementary regional-American and global heat trends for heat-sweet inspiration.
Play into the fun street food dynamic of Thai tea with a like-minded food pairing. Here, we look at taking the sting out of spicier offerings with a sweet antidote. Utilizing craveable refreshment to make guests want to keep taking bite after bite of savory meat-centric appetizers and entrées with full-flavored heat.
THAI ICED TEA + SPICY APPETIZERS
Honey-Buffalo Meatball Poppers: A portable cup of roasted miniature meatballs (flavored with smoked paprika, lemongrass and garlic powder) tossed in a honey-Buffalo sauce
Jalapeno Zingers: Beer-battered fried jalapeño bites stuffed with chorizo cream cheese
Triple Threat Beef Rollers: Crispy taquitos filled with shredded jerk beef, diced roasted green chiles, fresh mango and pepper Jack cheese
Red Fire Pork Sliders: Juicy carnitas tossed in a tamarind-chipotle barbecue sauce; served on mini Hawaiian rolls
THAI ICED TEA + SPICY ENTREES
Sichuan Beef Burrito: Soft flour tortilla filled with seared chunks of steak, red bell peppers, arugula, spicy Sichuan hoisin sauce, jasmine rice; griddle pressed
Maple-Harissa Pork Belly Taco: Seared chunks of pork belly sticky-glazed with maple, harissa, orange juice and minced garlic, topped with queso fresco crumbles and sliced scallions; on a white corn tortilla
Chimi Burger: Beef-chorizo patty topped with charred red onion rings, mozzarella cheese; served on a toasted kaiser bun spread with chimichurri aïoli
Spicy Pork Bowl: Succulent shreds of pork ragu (braised pork shoulder with tomato-red curry paste-soy-jalapeño-lime-ginger sauce), stir-fry vegetables, daikon sprouts and glass noodles
From the Best of Flavor 2022 issue of Flavor & The Menu, for chefs and menu developers. Read full issue online.