Whether it’s grilled, fried, broiled, sauteed or dressed up in an ethnic format, seafood’s popularity remains unabated. Restaurants featuring fish in limited-time offers are making the most of seasonally appropriate preparations and ingredients to tantalize the taste buds. Take a look at some of the latest seafood-forward LTOs.
1) Grilled: Suitable for summer
Grilled seafood is right any time, but is particularly apt for warmer months, when lighter preparations are in favor. P.J. Whelihan’s Pub & Restaurant, a casual dining chain with 19 locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, combines grilled shrimp and a light-but-substantial salad in its Tex Mex Grilled Shrimp LTO. The dish teams barbecue shrimp atop two types of lettuce tossed with a lemon barbecue dressing. Rounding out this fiesta in a bowl are sweet corn, fresh avocado, quinoa, black beans, bell peppers and queso fresco.
2) Citrus as a co-star
Crowning seafood with a squeeze of lemon is a time-honored practice. Citrus in other forms is popping up next to seafood as well. Ponzu—a Japanese dipping sauce typically made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, lemon or lime juice and seasonings—is up 19.1% on seafood menus year-over-year, and is currently in the “growth” phase on the flavor life cycle, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor. At Kona Grill, a casual dining chain where a contemporary American menu folds in a substantial nod to sushi, one LTO is the Firecracker Sashimi. Salmon sashimi is wrapped around avocado and pickled onion, then topped with jalapeno, cilantro, sriracha and yuzu ponzu, creating a flavor bomb in every bite.
3) Spices on the rise
With many consumers seeking bolder flavors, well-spiced seafood preparations are in demand. In fact, the fastest-growing flavor in fish preparations is chili lime; according to MenuMonitor, 25% of all fish dishes now mention chili lime in the description. Sriracha, cayenne, wasabi and other spicy ingredients are on the rise as well. A case in point: the “Off the Hook” Fish Tacos LTO served at Ruby’s Diner, a family restaurant chain with 37 locations across the country. The tacos, made with battered cod, are layered with a fresh cabbage mix, sriracha mayo, green onions and cotija cheese. They are plated with black beans and a zesty salsa.
4) Taste of the Mediterranean
For obvious reasons, seafood plays an important role in Mediterranean cuisine. Restaurants are capitalizing on the broad appeal of Mediterranean flavors by menuing fish preparations incorporating traditional ingredients such as tomatoes, onion, cucumber and lemon. Coco’s Bakery Restaurant, a midscale family concept with 54 sites in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida, serves a Mediterranean Cod LTO designed for guests seeking healthy options. The lightly seasoned fish is grilled and topped with fresh mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, fresh spinach and capers sautéed in a lemon herb sauce. It’s served with fresh seasonal vegetables and rice pilaf.