Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
February 18, 2022

Flavorful salsas can introduce patrons to the flavors of Mexico or simply serve as punchy, vibrant condiments for any number of menu items. Silky, sauce-like or chunky, salsa is an experiential element that can go in endless flavor directions. There are ubiquitous foods ever connected to salsa, but it can easily take on non-Mexican ingredients or even leap outside of Mexican cuisine, imparting flavor and panache to global favorites.

Here are six on-trend salsa profiles: three classics and three to watch—all with contemporary variations that serve up menu excitement.

Contemporary variations include adding:

  • heirloom tomatoes
  • huitlacoche
  • watermelon radish
  • Urfa chile flakes
  • dry jerk spice
  • smoked pineapple
  • fresh peaches
  • tamarind

TRY THIS
Georgia Summer Taco: white corn tortillas + fried pork tenderloin + creamy pecan slaw + peach pico de gallo

 

Contemporary variations include adding:

  • smoking the tomatoes
  • swapping black garlic for garlic
  • swapping beef broth for chicken broth
  • adding achiote, Aleppo chile or Worcestershire sauce

TRY THIS
Ranchera Beef Spud: baked potato + beef pot roast chunks + ranchera salsa (beef broth, Worcestershire) + crema + pepper Jack cheese

 

Contemporary variations include adding:

  • using a combination of raw, stewed or char-grilled blackened tomatillos
  • adding banana peppers, nopales, pepitas or chipotle
  • combining with Thai coconut milk or crema and chicken broth

TRY THIS
Calypso Pork: pork loin + pepita salsa verde (Thai coconut milk) + jasmine rice + black beans

 

Contemporary variations include adding:

  • swapping spicier chiles for mild
  • swapping cashews or almonds for peanuts
  • adding cinnamon, cacao nibs or sunflower seeds

TRY THIS
K-Pop Beef: Korean barbecue ground beef + kimchi fried rice + salsa macha

 

Contemporary variations include adding:

  • using avocado oil
  • adding fresh mint, Tajín seasoning, togarashi, turmeric, mustard seed, mango juice, crema or fresh avocado

TRY THIS
Carnitas Chilaquiles Verde: fried tortillas + guacachile + carnitas + panela cheese shavings

 

Contemporary variations include adding:

  • using tomatillos
  • swapping tequila for Mexican beer
  • swapping blood orange rind/juice reduction for orange juice
  • adding honey or habanero

TRY THIS
Mexican Pub Steak: seared beef ribeye steak + drunken salsa + fried onion rings

 

FEATURED RECIPE

Photo credit: Smithfield Culinary

Pico de gallo offers a bright and bity counterpoint in this Chorizo Breakfast Bowl, featuring ground pork flavored with chorizo seasoning, served over crispy hash browns and accompanied by avocado and a fried egg.

GET THE RECIPE FOR CHORIZO BREAKFAST BOWL

About The Author

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ROB CORLISS is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu. [email protected]