3 ways to innovate with flavorful fish dishes this summer
During the summer, there’s not much better than a barbecue. But cookouts don’t have to be limited to just the backyard. In fact, restaurants can flex their creative muscle with summertime grilling, particularly with fish dishes made with tilapia and other white fish. With lighter fare in focus over the summer—sweltering temperatures conjure cravings for crisp veggies and refreshing citrus accents rather than cream- or cheese-based dishes—restaurants can enhance menu variety with fish dishes that highlight summertime flavors. Check out a few ways to add lively tastes to the summertime menu with tilapia and other white fish.
Play into summertime flavor trends
Summertime is all about incorporating the season’s bounty into meals. For instance, fruit salsas are perfect for accompanying fish dishes, and they’re popping up at restaurants all over—at Ryan’s, a steakhouse/buffet chain with 30 locations across the U.S., diners can dig into Pineapple Salsa Tilapia, and at Rainforest Café, the Taste of the Islands dish features Caribbean coconut shrimp, dynamite scallops and shrimp and blackened tilapia with mango salsa.
Other trending flavors for tilapia dishes include spicy bold preparation as well as global influence. For example, Cotton Patch Café, a Southern-style chain with 55 locations in the U.S., recently menued a limited time offer, the Grilled Cajun Duo: Grilled tilapia and grilled shrimp with Cajun seasonings, covered in crawfish cream sauce. And at Churrascos, an upscale dining chain in Texas, diners can order the Andina—pan roasted Peruvian blue tilapia with tempura mushroom and warm huancaina (a spicy, creamy sauce).
Capitalize on the grill
Grilled fish and seafood sings in the summertime heat. Char-roasted flavor complements tilapia and other mildly-flavored white fish perfectly. In fact, grilled tilapia is the second most popular preparation at restaurants—22.6% of all tilapia dishes are grilled, following only breaded, which accounts for 32.4% of all menu items. Grilled seafood, including tilapia, offers diners the option to eat a better-for-you seafood dish—free from heavy sauces or fried breading. Additionally, it pairs perfectly with other flavors common to summer. Operators can also serve grilled tilapia alongside summer favorites—for instance, grilled zucchini and other vegetables can be a great side dish, and grilled corn is another common favorite.
Experiment with new formats
Finally, to offer new options for the summertime, consider new formats of grilled seafood. Rather than the standard grilled filet, for instance, try serving grilled white fish in tacos or as part of a salad. Operators can also opt to menu grilled white fish kebabs—skewer tilapia or halibut, alternated with veggies such as cherry tomatoes or artichoke hearts, then grill and serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime and rice pilaf (or a fresh corn salad). Tilapia and other seafood, such as shrimp, is also great for fajitas—and complements the grilled flavor of the veggies perfectly.
For diners looking for something new to try, grilled seafood and fish is a great choice—free from the heavy breading and cream sauces that can sometimes accompany seafood, grilling imparts great flavor that complements the delicate flavor of fish and enhances the flavor of marinades. From fajitas to filets, it’s the perfect summer plate.