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4 versatile ways to menu seafood across dayparts

Photograph: Shutterstock

With rising labor, rent and other costs pressuring the bottom line, many restaurant operators are looking at ways to run more efficiently. Menus built around cross utilization are a popular solution—sourcing fewer ingredients means operators can reduce inventory labor and space. Less food waste is another benefit. The key is choosing building blocks that have strong consumer appeal and that play well across formats and menu sections.

Because it adapts easily to a variety of preparation styles, from baked to wood-fired, blackened, battered, breaded or fried, tilapia brings a versatility worthy of a spot on menus across the spectrum.

A quick look at the many ways restaurants menu tilapia suggests its flexible nature.

Comfort food favorites

Among entrees, Parmesan-crusted Tilapia is a popular preparation, served at Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cantina and many other restaurants. Rockfish Seafood Grill takes a completely different approach with Crab Stuffed Fish, filling blackened tilapia with Maryland crab cake and shrimp.

Ethnic spins abound

Osha Thai in the San Francisco Bay Area offers Lemongrass Tilapia, served with bok choy, spinach, mushrooms, ginger, onions and honey mushroom sauce. At Logan’s Roadhouse, the chain’s Tex-Mex Tilapia dish tops blackened, wood-grilled tilapia fillets with creamy queso and red chili citrus sauce. The fish is served over rice mixed with corn and black bean salsa. And at Marietta Fish Market in Marietta, Ga., serves Sizzling Seafood Fajitas, a mix of tilapia with shrimp, scallops, peppers, onions and mushrooms.

Combo plates offer variety

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen serves tilapia in a variety of styles—blackened, pan-grilled, fried and grilled—which are all great for combination plates. The chain’s Seafood Platter teams two fried tilapia fillets with fried shrimp, oysters, stuffed shrimp and stuffed crab.

In fact, chefs often pair tilapia with shrimp. Ruby Tuesday’s, for example, menus Peppercorn Seasoned Tilapia with Shrimp Scampi. The recent Field Tide LTO at Joe’s Crab Shack paired seared tilapia with an 8-ounce sirloin steak, a shrimp veggie skewer, seasonal vegetables and shrimp mac and cheese. 

Sandwiches and small plates

In the sandwich and small plates category, fried tilapia sandwiches are a natural. Fish tacos with blackened tilapia are another popular application. Casa Ole’s version is served with corn salsa and chipotle aioli.

Versatility is important, but so are patron preferences. As operators grapple with accommodating special diets, ingredients like tilapia appeal to a wide cross-section of appetites. Keto? Check. Paleo? Check. Protein-obsessed? Check. Healthy? Check. Regardless of whether they follow a specific eating pattern, 73% of consumers view seafood as a healthy choice, according to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate Seafood and Vegetarian Report.

For restaurant customers who order fish at least once a month, tilapia is among the three favorite varieties, according to Technomic. And fish tacos—frequently filled with blackened or grilled tilapia—rank as the top trending dish for those consumers.

For any restaurant looking at ways to trim inventory without sacrificing variety, tilapia should be on the short list of mainstay ingredients.

To learn more about how to add tilapia to the menu, visit regalsprings.com/foodservice.

Get a FREE SAMPLE of Regal Springs Panko Encrusted Tilapia today! https://www.regalsprings.com/panko-free-sample/

This post is sponsored by Regal Springs

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