Restaurants are keeping on top of food trends this summer by offering seafood dishes with ingredients that are healthful, seasonal and locally focused.
Although overall consumption of seafood has decreased in restaurants, according to consumer research firm The NPD Group, orders of non-fried seafood are increasing. That shift in seafood consumption suggests that many diners are increasingly making health-conscious decisions when ordering seafood, according to Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at The NPD Group.
On-trend seafood dishes found on restaurant menus this summer not only reflect this consumer move away from fried seafood and toward more healthful seafood preparations, but other culinary trends as well. They use both local seafood and produce — among the top menu trends of 2012 chosen by the American Culinary Federation — and also take advantage of the seasonality of sport fish such as trout in the West and bluefish in the East. These menu items also use seasonal ingredients and flavors that reflect the community that the restaurant serves.
Take a look at five summer seafood dishes that reflect some of these current food trends.
1. Smoked, Cured Bluefish with Potato Latke,
Greek Yogurt and Dill
Almond in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Bluefish is a popular sport fish for anglers on the East Coast, but the aggressive flavor it takes on when it’s not extremely fresh — and the fact that people are accustomed to catching it and eating it at home — has largely kept it off of restaurant menus. But executiveJason Weiner serves it during the summer at his two-unit restaurant, Almond. “Few fish are as delicious, richer or moister than freshly caught bluefish. It’s local, seasonal, economical and plentiful this time of year,” he said.
For the dish, he cures the bluefish overnight, then smokes it and serves it with a potato latke, Greek yogurt and dill for $12.
2. Kampachi Tartare
Eleven Plates & Wine in Austin, Texas
This dish from Chef Joe Anguiano is spiked with jalapeño peppers and exemplifies the high tolerance for spiciness that many Texans possess. The dish has an additional kick from fresh wasabi root that gives it an aura of authenticity, and coriander blossoms reflect the summer season. The dish, which is $13, is brought together with a citrus coconut dressing.
3. Maple Brined Idaho Trout
Red Star Tavern in Portland, Ore.
Chef Kyle Rourke uses Idaho trout in this menu item, which accentuates the dish’s Pacific Northwest heritage. It’s brined with maple, one of the hottest flavors this year, and is served with early summer vegetables such as fava beans and carrots. Barley provides some starch to the dish, which is served with an unusual black tea broth. The dish sells for $24.
4. Smoked Trout Rillettes
Poste Moderne Brasserie in Washington, D.C.
Rillettes are usually made of pork, but chef Dennis Marron makes this pâté-like item out of smoked trout, which gives it a healthier halo. An artisanal touch comes from the house-made soda crackers served with the dish. The rillettes also are accompanied by citrus crème fraîche, and they’re topped with trout roe and chives for $13.
5. Seared Scallop Crudo
Lure in Atlanta
Although culinary touches are certainly appreciated in seafood dishes, a relatively simple approach also is in order so that the high quality of the center-of-the-plate ingredient can shine through. That’s David Bradley’s planned approach at Lure, which is scheduled to open in Atlanta in July. Already slated for the restaurant's summertime menu is this $12 seared scallop dish, served simply with sugar snap peas and horseradish.