The global food trend shows no signs of slowing down in the restaurant industry. Today, chefs are finding that not only will consumers eat dishes and ingredients that were previously unknown to them, but that they also seek out these new food experiences.
“Global cuisine is no longer something you only get while traveling somewhere far off and exotic,” says James Bickmore-Hutt, culinary R&D manager and corporate chef for Dole Packaged Foods. “The consumer is changing, becoming more educated, and developing a broader palate for what is delicious and intriguing. Ancient grains and spices allow for a greater field of creativity and play on a menu, creating intrigue and engaging with the next generation of consumer.”
Ancient grains and spices can help restaurants capitalize on the global food trend while introducing new ingredients to American diners, especially when paired with familiar fruits already well-known in the U.S.
Yet working with new ingredients can be challenging because chefs are not educated about how to prepare and use them. Additionally, servers must be educated in how to pronounce new ingredients and to explain flavor profiles and histories to customers, Bickmore-Hutt says. To help restaurants efficiently capture these ingredients, companies like Dole have come up with solutions that make this kind of culinary exploration simpler.
Here are Bickmore-Hutt’s suggestions for ways restaurants can easily create high-quality global cuisine.
“The proliferation of spice blends has led to the global exploration of different regional combinations. Dukkah is a fantastic nutty and tangy blend from Egypt. It is amazing for adding flavor to dressings, dips, and sides.
Global menu inspiration starts at breakfast. Take this Egyptian Breakfast Hash, which combines DOLE® Chef-Ready Cuts Diced Peaches with North African ingredients, like chickpeas, dukkah spice, thyme, and parsley. The dish is baked in an individual skillet with Yukon gold potatoes, shredded turkey, Manchego, and a perfectly runny egg for an entrée that’s both delicious and visually appealing.”
“A little miso goes a long way to adding umami and depth to even the simplest of dishes. Whether it is a tablespoon worth to your next stir fry or folded into your next crème anglaise before churning an ice cream, it will provide a deep savory note that is very addictive. There are some great pastes out there that make this ingredient a very easy add to a restaurant’s operations.”
“Labneh is thick strained yogurt commonly found in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, and it makes for an ideal appetizer. Here we’re pairing the tart flavor of yogurt and DOLE® Dark Sweet Cherries cooked with lemon zest and baharat, a fragrant spice blend of black pepper, dried mint, cinnamon, cumin, and nutmeg.”
“Za’atar, an aromatic herbaceous, nutty, and tangy blend, has as many variations as there are countries in the Levant region. It is a fantastic mix that is used throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East in sauces, pizza, or even just dipping bread into. A great way to introduce this into your kitchen would be to simply add this and olive oil to flatbread and warm. The aroma will have you wanting more before you even take your first bite.”
“For a Mexican twist on a classic pea soup, add roasted poblano and simmer with a sachet of cumin, cilantro, black peppercorns, and guajillo peppers. Finish with a drizzle of mango crème fraiche made with DOLE® Chef-Ready Frozen Mango Purée, lime, and chili powder for a cool touch of sweetness and spice.”
“The combination of earthy sorghum and cherries elevates a traditional fried chicken sandwich to new heights. Our version features a sweet-and-tart cabbage slaw with DOLE® IQF Tart Cherries and DOLE® Pineapple Juice, adding dimension to sorghum molasses-marinated fried chicken thighs.”
“Aside from a vibrant hit of color, this earthy aromatic spice has long been used for sauces, curries, baked goods, and even beverages. It has a history of powerful anti-inflammatory properties and deep history in the Hindu belief. Start by adding to your next sauce and adding a vibrant color to your next plating, it will sell itself.”
“Derived from dried and ground berries in the Middle East, this spice has amazing citrus notes and sweet tangy heat. It has broad applications in everything from creating your next dry barbecue rub, to a memorable vinaigrette for a fresh salad.”
“A small step will take you far. You don’t need to change your whole menu overnight, but even trying one of these on trend ingredients as even an LTO will show you the potential for change. The consumer is changing, the adventurous eaters are graduating and entering the workforce with expendable income, make sure you are there to capture that opportunity.”
Sign up to receive a free 30-ounce sample of Dole Chef-Ready Frozen Fruit Purées here.