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Special Feature: Seasonings

From simple to sophisticated, marinades, sauces help bring fish home

Seafood seasonings make it easier for consumers to add fish to their diet. - Photo by Laura Lee Dobson
By Melissa Wood
February 05, 2012

While health-conscience Americans attempt to double their seafood consumption to follow the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines that say to eat seafood twice a week, seasonings and marinades are helping that nutritional medicine go down.

“Now with consumers trying to eat more and more fish, people have to learn how to cook something new, and they don’t want to cook it in the same way every time,” says Chris Martini, VP-sales for Ashman Manufacturing in Virginia Beach, Va. 

Toppings for seafood used to mean two things: tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. But such lack of variety doesn’t cut it anymore. “The category was kind of there for eternity, and there was a Brand X that made lemon dill and tartar and cocktail sauce, and I think that’s how an earlier generation was taught to eat or cook with fish,” Martini says.

Ashman, which produces barbecue sauces, marinades, pasta sauces, rubs and salsas for retail and foodservice, has seen its seafood marinade category double in the past few years. He credits this jump to the well-publicized health benefits of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and the greater availability of fresh seafood in places like the Midwest. For added variety, the company now offers 15 types of sauces in its seafood sauces and marinades product line. It will introduce its two newest flavors, a salmon bourbon teriyaki marinade and a five-spice marinade, at the International Boston Seafood Show in March.

“Those people (from the Midwest) never experienced any seafood except for fried shrimp,” he says of fresh fillets that are readily available throughout the region. “It’s not tuna from the can, it’s a phenomenal piece of protein that can take on fantastic flavor profiles.”

In general, home cooks are buying more sauces and marinades. According to a report published by the London-based Mintel International Group, U.S. retail sales for cooking sauces and marinades grew 20 percent between 2005 and 2010. The category is expected to grow by another 19 percent by 2015. In seafood departments, those toppings are increasingly being added before the product is sold. Along with its traditional consumer-sized 12-ounce jars, Ashman offers a 64-ounce pump of its seafood marinades for retailers to add to fresh product from the seafood counter. 

Many seafood companies also offer ready-to-serve products with different flavor combinations. Morey’s Seafood International, Wholey, Fishery Products International, Trident Seafoods and Clear Springs are just a few companies offering marinated or coated seafood entrées for retail sale. 

Such variety of flavor should only be increasing, according to a report released by McCormick. For its first global forecast, the Hunt Valley, Md., company took into account reports from an international team of McCormick chefs, sensory scientists, marketing experts and food technologists. High on the list for this year is the trend of Honoring Roots, combining modern tastes with cultural authenticity. 

“Honoring Roots is all about taking heritage flavors and applying a fresh perspective that mindfully balances modern tastes and cultural authenticity,” says Steve Love, chef for McCormick Europe, Middle East and Asia, in the report. “The flavor combination of Korean pepper paste with sesame, Asian pear and garlic honors Korean BBQ and inspires new interpretations.”  

The report also points out that the most memorable food is often the simplest and that cooks are also highlighting quality ingredients with unpretentious preparations. That trend is not news to Don Cynewski, general manager of Ducktrap River of Maine in Belfast, Maine. The company, which specializes in smoked salmon, has been selling a horseradish sauce and mustard dill sauce for more than 15 years. The bottom line, according to Cynewski, is that it’s all about the fish. 

“We’re never going to be in the business of making sauces,” says Cynewski. “The idea is to try to make it easier for people to buy our products.”

Email Assistant Editor Melissa Wood at mwood@divcom.com 

February 2012 - SeaFood Business

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