Helpful seafood data was recently released to guide restaurants in preparing seafood as a lucrative menu item.
Food industry market research firm Datassentials, which trends about 4,800 restaurants across the country, laid out some information about various seafood-linked menu parameters.
It highlighted tilapia as the type of fish that has been increasingly prevalent in restaurant menus, in its outstanding menu cover, from 2007 to 2011. Tilapia saw a 58.4% increase in menu appearances in the said years mainly due to its known versatility, as the fish can be prepared in a variety of ways –such as grilling or baking, which do not always work with the other delicate types.
The other types of fish which can be considered more forgiving and tolerant when it comes to cooking preparation techniques include mahi-mahi (with a 36.7% growth), anchovy (19.5%), ahi (19%), sea bass (17%), haddock (11.1%), calamari (11%), whitefish (10.5%) and salmon (8.8%).
Included in Datassentials’ other findings are:
• Among menu descriptors, the words “crispy“ and “encrusted” are considered the top two widely-used among restaurants, with a percentage growth of 23.3% and 11.3 respectively. These menu descriptors show how diners are drawn to food comfort and indulgence, as well as chefs’ partiality to the use of sturdier fish.
• Asian dishes sashimi, sushi, tuna sashimi and tuna rolls top the list of top growing seafood entrée items in menus in elegant menu cover last year.
• Among popular preparation menu terms, tartare, that creamy white sauce that is commonly served with seafood, leads the list with a 25.6% growth rate. Another common one is seared, which has a growth rate of 9.3%. Searing is a cooking technique that cooks the seafood at high temperature to allow a caramelized crust formation.
• Although its growth rate is not substantial enough to make it to the top lists, calamari is still considered to be the number one seafood entrée dish on 2011 menu listings, materializing on 16.3% of menus that Datassential surveyed. Other top entrée items include taco (9.8%), wonton (8.6%), sushi (8.3%), tuna sandwich (7.6%), fish and chips (6.9%), sashimi (5.2%), bisque (4.7%), burger (4.5%) and tuna roll (4.4%).
• The top ten seafood items on restaurant menus are as follows: shrimp, which was seen in 68.8% of restaurants surveyed, tuna (42.9%), salmon (39.7%), crab (39.3%), scallop (33%), clam (26.9%), calamari (26.3%), lobster (23.7%), oyster (17.6%) and cod (12.8%).
• For hot and spicy seafood flavorings that saw a significant increase in the past years, horseradish, jalapeño, wasabi and chipotle led the list.