Chef's Corner: Amp up the Flavor with Sauces & Marinades
Eleonora has a degree in Food Science and is a Certified Baker from the American Institute of Baking, with management studies in Barcelona, Spain. She has experience working with leading global food companies in research & development, technical sales, consumer engagement and catering.
What is the role of sugar in marinades, sauces, and rubs?
The secret to perfectly crafted sauces, marinades or rubs is balance. The goal is to build a perfect dish using the elements of flavors in the correct amount. Sweet, salty, tangy, hot – you can play with flavors and ingredients to create a perfectly harmonized dish. Sugar plays a very important part in balancing and providing flavor. If you are looking for sweetness and balance, white granulated sugar may be all you need. If you are looking for a more robust flavor in addition to sweetness, light or dark brown sugar will add rich molasses flavor notes. Consider also turbinado sugar for rubs. The larger crystal size will add a crunchy texture to the crust plus a hint of molasses flavor.
What are the benefits of offering housemade sauces?
Sauces are a great source of flavor, and housemade sauces can be more flavorful than the ones that are ready to use. The main reason is that you are using fresh ingredients to prepare them. Plus, creating housemade sauces also provides an opportunity to innovate signature sauces that can differentiate your menu and drive traffic. When making your sauces in-house, keep in mind that sugar is a great ingredient not only to add sweetness to your sauce, but also to balance the acidity and saltiness of the sauce. A perfectly crafted sauce can transform a piece of meat, poultry or fish into a truly memorable dish.
What trends are you seeing in marinades and sauces?
Barbecue continues to grow in popularity and is being used in a variety of ways. Barbecue involves so many elements, from the meat you choose to prepare, to the method of cooking, to the rub and sauce you serve it with. Unless they are aficionados, odds are that consumers are going out to a restaurant to get barbecue, given all the effort involved. This is a great opportunity to delight your guests with bold and exciting flavors. Few cuisines are as diverse as barbecue. Kansas City, Carolina, Memphis and Texas are some of the most popular and well-known regional styles. What we see trending this year are less known styles like Hawaiian (teriyaki-based), Tennessee (whiskey-infused) or global barbecue flavors like Korean.
How are today’s consumer mindsets influencing the dishes they order?
Another trend we see is global consciousness of where one's food comes from and whether it has been farmed in an ethical manner. Sustainability concerns are also helping to drive the heightened interest in meatless options on menus. Housemade sauces can really help dress up and transform these dishes. For a tasty alternative to chicken wings, try cauliflower wings – simply fry to perfection and toss in an Asian-style barbecue sauce for a delicious meatless dish.
What recommendations do you have for operators looking to add barbecue to their menus?
Barbecue continues to be popular with guests, and there are many ways to incorporate sweet and smoky barbecue flavor on menus beyond simply entrees. For example, the appetizer menu can be a great way to bring the taste of barbecue to your menu. Dishes like Brown Sugar Bacon or Barbecue Pork Belly Burnt Ends are sure to entice your customers to try something new.
Also, be specific and descriptive about the flavors and ingredients used in barbecue to encourage orders. Use words that increase craveability, such as smoky, tangy, spicy, bold, or sweet. If your barbecue has a tie to a specific regional style, include that information as well to entice customers. Consumers today want to experiment with new flavors and understand the story behind their food.