« October 2007 Table of Contents
Product Spotlight: Complements
Sauces, rubs, marinades, breadings can enrich any seafood meal
By April Forristall
October 01, 2007
The right complement can determine whether a meal will sink
or swim, and seafood is no exception. Luckily for consumers,
seafood's delicate flesh is practically impervious to flavor
mishaps. That is why complements like sauces, rubs, marinades,
spices and breadings are the perfect way to enrich any seafood
meal. However, due to the scare factor involved in cooking
fish, consumers can get nervous when it comes to spicing things
"People are not sure how to cook [seafood] or add flavor,"
says Laurie Harrsen, director of public relations and consumer
relations at McCormick & Co. in Hunt Valley, Md. "They
don't want to ruin it."
That is why people will stick with traditional light
seasonings for seafood, like lemon and butter. But making the
pairing doesn't need to be so nerve-wracking, Harrsen says.
"Really, anything goes. Obviously, if it's a stronger fish,
like salmon, a stronger flavor will hold up better, but there
are no rules."
McCormick's extensive line of complements includes sauces
like Asian Seafood and Santa Fe Seafood and seasonings like Old
Bay Salmon Classic Mix.
A good way for hesitant consumers to venture out of their
comfort zone is to start by
trying a new flavor with shrimp.
"Shrimp is just as great with butter and garlic as it is with
tomato. It's all-purpose," Harrsen explains.
Like with any protein, especially when eating a lot of one
kind, experimentation is necessary to keep things fresh.
"You've got to change it up. It's so simple to just put a
[complement] on and add variety and in terest to this same
piece of protein and omega-3. One day I feel like
Mediterranean, or Caribbean. It can change the whole entire
dish. It's pretty important," says Harrsen.
Because it has a lighter natural taste than other proteins,
consumers can pair seafood with a flavor they already like, and
there are no restrictions to the personal palate.
No matter what the trend, more and more consumers want to
recreate in their own kitchens what they're ordering at
restaurants. "Customers are getting more adventurous," Harrsen
says. "They are looking to replicate flavors at home."
Two restaurants that are making it easier for diners to
experience those flavors in the comfort of their own homes are
Boneheads Grilled Fish & Piri Piri Chicken and Bobby Flay's
Mesa Grill restaurants.
The new Bobby Flay collection includes sauces and rubs like
Mesa Grill Hot Sauce and Mesa Grill Jalapeno Hot Sauce. The
signature collection is available at all Mesa Grill restaurants
including locations in New York and Las Vegas.
Boneheads' signature sauces and spices all come from a South
American pepper, the piri piri.
"We have a few different types of piri piri sauces that were
originally designed for chicken that are available at every
table," says Seth Salzman, senior VP and brand leader for
Boneheads. "But what we found was that people are using them as
condiments for fish."
"It surprised us at first, but now it's commonplace," says
Scott Vogel, Boneheads' director of operations and culinary
The sauces come in four different flavors of heat, from
extra hot down to mild, in addition to a lemon and herb sauce,
that has no spice at all. "It has a lemon juice base, and goes
really well with any type of fish," Vogel says. "It's light and
tangy, perfect for marinating fish at home."
At Boneheads, grilled fish is paired with piri piri mushroom
sauce and the fish tacos and grouper sandwich get the medium
piri piri hot sauce.
When diners started asking for bottles to take home, the
restaurants were more than happy to oblige. Four sauces are
available to purchase at all seven Bonehead locations in
Georgia, California and Florida, and the company is expanding
to other retail markets and making its spices available as
But when it comes to the piri piri pepper, home chefs should
be cautious - a little goes a long way.
"Less is more. It's pretty spicy stuff and can be
overpowering," Vogel explains. "When using it to cook fish,
stick with the lighter flavors, unless you're getting into
heavier fish like swordfish. It's going to be oilier fish that
the flavor will really come through."
He also suggests using the sauce as a dip as opposed to
basting the fish in it. "If you overpower the fish, you'll be
disappointed." Or, try doing what the chefs at Boneheads do -
cut a strong sauce with lemon juice to tame the flavor when
A sauce, rub, marinade, dip, spice or coating can open the
barriers to cooking with seafood. For consumers, making the
right match is as easy as knowing what flavors they already
enjoy. Any flavor works, and after all, variety is the spice of
Editorial Assistant April Forristall can be e-mailed at