Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Rob Corliss
February 17, 2021

Share on Facebook  Share on X (Twitter)  Share on Pinterest  Share on LinkedIn  Share thru Email  


Mash-ups are nothing new…but powerhouse flavor combinations always feel fresh and relevant. The influence of Latin American and Eastern Mediterranean cuisines has been well chronicled. And the comfort-centric positioning of kung pao, orange chicken and General Tso’s is well-established. Now, consider melding the craveable flavors of those cuisines and look to the opportunities they present.

This modern mash-up introduces more safe adventure into our current comfort-centric food world. Forward-thinking chefs are always envisioning new possibilities to tantalize consumers’ taste buds with crave-inducing builds that feel effortless. Here are ideas to set your operation’s recipe development in motion.


General Tso’s-Inspired

  • Carne Tso Asada: Ancho lime marinated skirt steak, grilled and glazed with General Tso’s sauce, then sliced and served with warm tortillas, fresh avocado slices and hoisin black beans
  • Tso’s Picadillo: Ground hamburger/diced potatoes/tomato/bell pepper/onion/beef broth simmered in general Tso’s sauce, served with jasmine rice

Kung Pao-Inspired

  • Kung Pao Quesadilla: Flour tortilla stuffed with small-chopped kung pao chicken and vegetables and Jack cheese, served with creamy peanut dipping sauce
  • Kung Pao Plantains: Soft-fried plantains tossed in peanut powder, served with warm kung pao sauce

Orange Chicken-Inspired

  • Orange Shrimp Taco: White corn tortillas topped with jalapeño-red cabbage slaw and breaded/fried shrimp tossed in orange chicken glaze
  • Orange Elote: Freshly grilled corn on the cobb segments basted with orange glaze (no chicken), then flavored with Cotija cheese crumbles and smoked chile-salt


General Tso’s Inspired

  • Tso’s Hummus: Traditional hummus swirled with a touch General Tso’s sauce (no chicken); served with warm pita wedges and pan-fried scallion pancakes
  • Tso’s 1,000,000 Yuan Bacon: Thick strips of smoked bacon are glazed/candied with a harissa-General Tso’s sauce (no chicken) and baked to deliciousness, served in three-strip appetizer size

Kung Pao-Inspired

  • Kung Pao Lamb Chops: Roasted lamb chops glazed with kung pao sauce, topped with crushed peanuts and pomegranate powder
  • Kung Pao Halloumi: Thick slice of grilled halloumi topped with kung pao beef (small chopped beef and vegetables) and crushed peanuts

Orange Chicken-Inspired

  • Za’atar Orange Carrots: Tri-color whole-roasted carrots topped with a touch of orange chicken (sautéed ground chicken) and feta crumbles, sprinkled with za’atar spice
  • Orange Chicken Cous Cous: Fragrant golden raisin/preserved lemon/toasted almond couscous topped with classic orange chicken and sliced scallions


Orange Pepper Pulled Pork Sliders celebrate the craveable flavors of the classic orange sauce, making a bright-hot version and featuring it on these Orange Pepper Pulled Pork Sliders. A crisp and colorful Greens Slaw adds crunch.Smithfield Culinary

Orange Pepper Pulled Pork Sliders
Celebrate the craveable flavors of the classic orange sauce, making a bright-hot version and featuring it on these Orange Pepper Pulled Pork Sliders. A crisp and colorful Greens Slaw adds crunch.



About The Author

Rob Corliss

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.