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August 6, 2018

The "Reel" Opportunity To Innovate

Consumers are demonstrating a real affinity for seafood, willing to shell out a premium for quality when dining out. And, they’re hungry for seafood dishes that they wouldn’t necessarily make for themselves at home. But that doesn’t mean your menu items need to be overly complex.

Simple, yet flavorful, roasted and smoked fish entrées are showing growth on the menu, enhanced with curry, citrus, aioli and other bold sauces. Classic preparations are also making a comeback, including paella, bisques and bouillabaisse. Seafood preparations are getting stirred up with dishes like branzino ceviche, trout panna cotta with steelhead caviar, and rockfish sashimi with yuzu and chili vinaigrette.


Sustainability may be one of the most widely used culinary terms over the last 2 years, but in relation to seafood, sustainability and preserving our natural resources is so important. Salmon, tuna and shrimp will remain in the top spots as favorites, but we’re now seeing sustainably raised species such as cobia - a flaky whitefish with a sweet, rich flavor, and Pangasius – a mild-flavored white-fleshed fish from Asia, also called swai, basa or tra.

When Brunch rolls around, we’ve seen smoked salmon, and everything “Oscar” (with crabmeat), for years, but breakfast and brunch will start to feature new and soon-to-be-favorites like hake - a beautifully soft-textured flake fish with a wonderful sweetness, skate, and even kelp – a leafy seaweed. Try preparing a ‘hake kedgeree’, or an Indian-spiced rice with hake.

I have a chef friend in California that cooks delicate fish like true cod on the “plancha” (flattop grill) on parchment paper. Using less fat, the fish sears and browns right through the paper, and is easy to lift off, where it would otherwise easily break apart – cool trick.

The many health benefits of fish and seafood make recipes like these popular Baja Fish Tacos a welcome offering in healthcare and college campus dining facilities

Custom Culinary® has many products to accentuate any seafood dish. With various seafood bases (Lobster, Shrimp, Clam and Crab), flavor concentrates like Sriracha-Lime and Southwest, or ready-to use sauces like Beurre BlancHollandaiseWasabi-Ginger Ponzu, and Latin-style Citrus Chili Sauce, its easy to create authentic, unique and flavorful seafood dishes that your guests will be hooked on!

Check out our recipe library for many fish and seafood recipes like this delicious Florida Grouper with Mandarin Orange Hollandaise Sauce.

Have fun experimenting with “new” varieties of fish and seafood, and interesting preparations. Keep it simple – or be creative. Your patrons will be hooked!

Mike Speranza, CEC
Corporate Executive Chef, East Region
Custom Culinary, Inc.