Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

 

 

 

By Rob Corliss
February 17, 2021

 

Side dishes serve as a menu cornerstone, affording diners the opportunity to enhance their main course or enjoy a few sides as a grazing course or shareables experience with friends/family. American-Chinese cues provide a wonderful pathway to accentuate side-dish staples like vegetables, potatoes, rice and pasta in diverse ways.

Here, we focus on three categories where modern American-Chinese flavor combinations can make a splash. These are meant to be fun and playful takes, creating side dishes that grab attention and deliver craveable flavor experiences.

“Try This”

VEGETABLES

  • Mongolian Green Beans: Steamed fresh green beans tossed with browned garlic, crispy pork, sweet hoisin-soy glaze, sliced scallions and sesame seeds
  • Kung Pao “Rice”: Cauliflower fried rice with shelled edamame, bean sprouts, peanuts, split chiles, kung pao sauce
  • Char Siu Mushrooms: Marinated, roasted and broiled (charred) whole cremini mushrooms glazed with sweet/savory/sticky char siu sauce
  • Orange Bok Choy: Sautéed baby bok choy leaves and Asian pear slices with star anise syrup, applewood smoked bacon, dried orange peel

POTATOES

  • Ginger Butter Spuds: Mini whole-roasted creamer potatoes tossed in softened butter/ginger purée/soy sauce
  • Mala Fries: Shoestring french fries dusted with a crushed Sichuan peppercorn/minced dried red chile spice blend, served with soy gravy
  • Chinese Sweet Potato Bake: Luscious mixture of mashed sweet potatoes, egg, almond milk, honey, butter in a crock, topped with a brown sugar/ flour/butter/chopped walnuts/Chinese five-spice crumble; baked in the oven
  • Imperial Potato Pancakes: Shredded (raw and parboiled) russet potatoes mixed with smoked bacon, minced garlic/sesame seeds/red chile powder/cumin; formed into flat cakes and griddled crispy golden rösti-style

RICE/PASTA

  • Egg Drop Pilaf: Rice pilaf (cooked in chicken broth/sesame oil/turmeric) flavored with soft-scrambled egg and sliced scallion
  • Honey-Garlic Rice: Steamed brown rice flavored with honey-garlic sauce and crispy shallots
  • Black Pepper Pasta: Corkscrew pasta tossed with shaved celery, caramelized onion and an aromatic black pepper butter sauce, drizzled with a touch of syrupy Chinese vinegar
  • Crab Rangoon Mac: Large elbow noodles tossed with a creamy Jack/cream cheese sauce, imitation crab and sliced scallions, topped with crushed fried wonton

FEATURED RECIPE

Served as a shareable, main or side, this Wok Stir-Fry with Ham and Spicy Black Bean Glaze works well in both on-premise and takeout. The ham is tempura battered and tossed in the glaze, delivering great flavor and texture.Smithfield Culinary

Wok Stir-Fry with Ham and Spicy Black Bean Glaze
Served as a shareable, main or side, this Wok Stir-Fry with Ham and Spicy Black Bean Glaze works well in both on-premise and takeout. The ham is tempura battered and tossed in the glaze, delivering great flavor and texture.

GET THE RECIPE FOR WOK STIR-FRY WITH HAM AND SPICY BLACK BEAN GLAZE

 

About The Author

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Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 20 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and, currently, owning a consulting company, ATE (All Things Epicurean), focused on flavor, menu and restaurant innovation. Based in Nixa, Mo., he has an energizing passion for food and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. robcorliss@7ate9.biz