This is a special message from Bush Brothers
It used to be that beans in ethnic foods usually meant burritos. Although that’s still a very popular use of beans in ethnic cuisine, today ethnic foods are showcasing beans in new ways. Not only are chefs developing new recipes that include beans, but consumers are also demanding foods with bold, new flavors, and not from the usual countries.
According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, the top ethnic food trend is ethnic fusion cuisine, which means dishes that combine flavors of different countries. Other ethnic food trends are Peruvian cuisine, regional ethnic cuisine, Cuban cuisine, and southeast Asian cuisine such as Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian.
That means instead of just using beans as one of many ingredients in Mexican dishes, chefs are using beans in creative ways in popular foods such as Caribbean, Asian, and in variations that mix several countries’ flavors. Beans are making appearances in appetizers, entrees, and even desserts on menus every day as well as in special promotions.
One promotion is Chinese New Year in February. This year Panda Express highlighted its Firecracker Breast as a limited-time offer. The entree featured marinated chicken breast, wok-fried red and yellow peppers and spicy black bean sauce. To promote the spicy dish, the quick-service chain offered Facebook fans a coupon for a free serving.
Other Asian concepts offer beans in regular menu items, not just special promotions. Pei Wei Asian Diner offers Black Bean Chicken and Rice as a small plate. The dish consists of minced chicken, tangy black pepper sauce, garlic, ginger, black beans, chile peppers, red bell peppers, red onions, scallions, cilantro, and steamed rice.
Ethnic foods are also popular in restaurants that combine American and Asian flavors. Kona Grill, which has 23 locations, offers Pan-Asian Noodles, featuring udon noodles, seasoned beef tenderloin and mixed vegetables, in spicy black bean garlic sauce.
Garbanzo beans also feature prominently in some foods, such as Mediterranean. Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, a fast casual chain with more than a dozen locations in Colorado, offers customizable meals that include hummus, falafel, (both made from chick peas) and other ingredients. Customers can also choose Mediterranean Lentil Soup or Garbanzo Bean Stew.
Spanish restaurants incorporate beans into dishes too. Ondo, a tapas restaurant in Denver, offers Alubias Blancas con Butifarra, a white bean stew with Catalan sausage. Other tapas restaurants offer small plates such as garbanzo beans with chorizo on a baguette, Serrano ham with white beans on toast, and white bean dip.
There’s also the Caribbean version of rice and beans and bacon, and more elaborate Brazilian foods such as traditional Feijoada, a black bean casserole with bacon, Portuguese sausage, pork ribs, beef, rice, and orange slices. There’s also black bean soup with sour cream and red onions. Rice ‘n Beans in New York City offers these traditional Brazilian foods, as well as yellow or white rice with red or black beans as a side for beef entrees and chicken entrees. There is also a vegetarian option, which is rice, beans, vegetables, and plantains, cooked in olive oil.
Italian food sometimes features beans in appetizers. White bean bruschetta consists of beans and tomatoes on a baguette. Variations can include olives, lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley or rosemary.
BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, a 47-unit chain that’s part of the Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, has the Antipasti Chopped Salad, made of Italian meats, cheeses, olives and pickled vegetables, tossed with red onions, garbanzo beans, romaine and red wine vinaigrette. Garbanzo beans also play a role in entrees such as Balsamic Glazed Chicken, grilled chicken breast served with fresh asparagus, orzo and grain pilaf tossed with spinach, artichokes, garbanzo beans, tomatoes and feta. There’s also Rosemary Grilled Shrimp, marinated jumbo shrimp on an orzo and grain sauté with spinach, artichokes, garbanzo beans, tomatoes and feta with a lemon caper vinaigrette.
Don’t forget dessert. That doesn’t mean only the Hawaiian shaved ice with beans at the bottom of a paper cone. Foumani, an Asian sandwich bar in Boston, features a dessert called Red Bean Shaved Ice, which is shaved ice, mochi (Japanese rice cake), and milk, topped with assorted fruits and red beans.
Chefs will likely continue to develop ethnic dishes, as consumers continue to demand them. According to a survey by Chicago-based consumer research firm Mintel, 81 percent of respondents say they ate ethnic food away from home in the month leading up to the survey, a six percentage point increase from 2010. According to Mintel Menu Insights, the five most popular ethnic cuisine menu items in restaurants at the end of third quarter 2011 were Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Pan-Asian and Japanese. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern are gaining in popularity.
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This is a special message from Bush Brothers