Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
June 26, 2022

Apply varying cooking techniques to banana at different stages of ripeness and you’ll impart vastly different flavor experiences, creating savory dishes that are alluring and intriguing. Here, we explore the culinary interplay in four stages of ripeness and how they offer counterpoint to proteins in modern menu development.

Underripe firm, starchy bananas are ideal for naturally flavoring slow-cooked stews, curries and soups where they can slowly breakdown; these are perfect for when chefs need to impart bitter tartness and a unique texture.

Culinary: Grate, boil, fry, stew

  • Hot Pepper Guisada: Beef short rib and green banana guisada + white rice + charred cherry pepper chutney
  • Jamaican Porridge: Porridge (grated green banana, potato milk, coarse cornmeal) + crispy chicken sausage crumbles + fried egg + jerk dry spice sprinkle
  • Coconut Brisket Noodles: Chopped smoked brisket + tomato-lemongrass-coconut milk sauce + fried green banana + rice noodles

 

Barely ripe firm bananas hold their shape, adding mild sweetness, which works well in chutneys, salsas, sautés and spiced smashes; when chefs need to include understated banana flavor to enhance savory flavors.

Culinary Treatment: fry, roast, boil, pickle

  • Mojo Pork Bowl: Chopped citrus mojo grilled pork loin + black beans + basmati rice + arugula + roasted banana-Serrano chutney + pickled red onion
  • Cuban Club Sandwich: Shaved slow-roasted mustard-rubbed pork loin + sliced deli ham + Gruyère cheese + butter lettuce + ‘nduja-fried banana smash + pickle slices + toasted potato bread
  • Bananalicious Belly Bites: Gochujang-honey glazed pork belly + ginger-pickled banana slices + crushed peanuts

 

Ripe tender bananas lend aromatic sweetness and indulgent smoothness to dressings, dips and sauces; use when you want to play up banana’s popular appeal and impart more pronounced banana flavor.

Culinary Treatment: roast, caramelize, purée

  • Waldorf Wonder Salad: Crisped prosciutto + mesclun + celeriac + green apple + red grapes + candied walnuts + banana-barbecue dressing
  • Chicky Fritters: Chickpea-shredded smoked chicken thigh fritters + caramelized banana-mango Madras curry dip
  • Mole Pork Roll: Carnitas tossed in roasted banana red mole + shaved añejo cheese + Telera roll

 

Very ripe bananas add luscious, creamy sweetness ideal for glazes, sauces and savory mousse; use when chefs need to pair full sweetness to complement bold spices, herbals or vegetables.

Culinary Treatment: whip, glaze, cream, caramelize

  • Banana-Beef Arepa: Shredded beef + black beans + Cotija cheese crumbles + banana-green bell pepper guasacaca (without avocado)
  • Premium Pumpkin Soup: Savory pumpkin cream soup + tamarind-bananas Foster crema swirl + shredded beef machaca
  • Better Biscuit: Buttermilk biscuit + carved ham + banana-mascarpone-almond butter mousse

 

FEATURED RECIPE

Roasted Pork Belly with Cornmeal Porridge

Photo credit: Smithfield Culinary

A glazed and torched banana buddies up to Roasted Pork Belly, beautifully glazed with sugarcane and tamarind.

GET THE RECIPE FOR Roasted Pork Belly with Cornmeal Porridge

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]