This post is sponsored by TMI Trading.
Global foods and flavors are increasingly in demand at US restaurants. Diners are in search of new and exciting dishes, and chefs, restaurants and food brands are finding ways to make them more accessible. Dishes that use international foods such as Asian rolls or dumplings as a vehicle for familiar flavors are a great way to introduce global cuisine to diners, and they can make global dishes fit into just about any foodservice concept.
Ethnic fusion cuisine is one of the top five global flavor trends for 2018, according to the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. Fifty-two percent of the nearly 700 chefs surveyed said dishes that feature mashups with global ingredients are a hot trend for this year.
Global fusion dishes are a great way to introduce diners to foods they may not be familiar with, according to Robert Levenson, chef at Resorts International’s Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. “Chefs have been doing this for years so it’s not exactly new, but just a continuing trend that works,” he said.
A successful fusion dish is “one that is easily identifiable, and one that people can relate to,” Levenson said, adding that it “also cannot be too complicated...simplicity works well with fusion.”
One approach to global fusion cuisine is pairing the basic design of an international dish -- such as a taco or dumpling -- with classic American flavors. US favorites such as Philly cheese steak and buffalo chicken get the fusion treatment in the Chef One line of products from TMI Trading. "We enjoy using the Chef One product at our hotel. We pride ourselves in using local ingredients and making product from scratch whenever applicable. Chef One gives us exactly that -- a house-made feel, flavor and presentation," Levenson said of the brand, which manufacturers its products in Brooklyn, N.Y., and offers familiar dishes in egg roll and dumpling formats.
Egg rolls and spring rolls are already familiar to many US diners, and the Asian roll market is growing 7% each year to reach an expected value of $826 million by 2020, according to Technomic. Rolls that feature Western flavors like buffalo are growing in popularity while traditional Asian flavors decline or remain flat, Technomic found in an analysis of 2016 Q4 restaurant sales data. While traditional Chinese egg rolls might seem out of place at an American deli or bar and grill concept, flavors such as Philly cheese steak or crab and cream cheese can integrate seamlessly with the rest of the menu.
Comfort food favorites are a natural fit for fusion dishes, but there are also ways to work in better-for-you food trends. Chef One’s Kale and Vegetable Dumplings capitalize on Americans’ love of the leafy green by pairing it with spinach, corn and tofu inside a dumpling wrapper.
Even dessert is ripe for reinvention as a fusion dish, with 40% of consumers interested in ethnic desserts, according to a 2016 Datassential MenuTrends Keynote Report. Chef One puts a fresh spin on classic sweet potato pie by turning it into a dumpling that offers a bite-size serving of the nostalgic dessert, which satisfies chef Levenson’s definition of a successful fusion dish: easily identifiable and deliciously relatable.
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