Maximize the culinary possibilities

From Basic American Foods.

Chef Bill Kim is known for scratch-made menu creations at bellyQ, his popular Asian barbecue restaurant in Chicago. However, he widened his horizons and enhanced his creativity by working with a pair of convenient, labor-saving products from Basic American Foods, Potato Pearls® Natural Mashed Potatoes and Golden Grill® Hashbrown Potatoes.

It happened at the Taste the Trends® Tour, an annual event sponsored by Basic American Foods during the National Restaurant Association Show that hosts foodservice operators on a tour and tasting of hot Chicago restaurants like his.

Kim crafted exciting new items like Potato Dusted Fried Squid Tacos and Hashbrown Breakfast Turnovers for his industry guests to taste. They were a snap to make with Potato Pearls® Natural Mashed Potatoes and Golden Grill® Hashbrowns, products that are synonymous with made-from-scratch flavor and quick, easy prep, plus a few ingredients he already had in the bellyQ kitchen.

For example, take the Potato Dusted Squid Tacos, which showcased the versatility of Potato Pearls® as a breading. The idea is brilliantly simple. Essentially, Kim just dusted pieces of squid with a dry mixture of Potato Pearls®, corn starch, flour, paprika, garlic and salt and fried them in hot oil until golden brown. Then he nestled the crispy morsels in soft, warm white corn tortillas and topped them with avocado, green papaya, Thai basil and a dollop of hot sauce.

“It was that easy,” declares Kim. “Usually you would do a three-step breading procedure, but the Potato Pearls adhere so well to the squid that you don’t need to do all that.”

The guests love them. “If you can imagine it, people were eating Squid Tacos at 9 a.m.,” says Kim. “The Potato Pearls® breading created the crispy, French fry-kind of texture that I wanted for the fried squid.”

So successful was the Potato Pearls®-coated squid that Kim says he is planning to feature it as a salad at bellyQ.

Veering in another creative direction, Kim also treated his guests to Breakfast Hashbrown Turnovers with Golden Grill® Hashbrowns and egg custard in muffin tins. “The hashbrowns gave it body and texture as well as flavor,” Kim says. “As they cooked, they melded into the custard and created a savory item that people really liked.”

“It was truly eye-opening to see how many possible applications there are for these products,” Kim says.

Those are just two of the myriad menu ideas that are possible when operators give up the labor and expense of peeling, cutting and cooking raw potatoes and switch to Basic American Foods potato products. One can make anything from soups to appetizers to main courses to side dishes by combining them with ingredients already on hand. For instance, to make signature potato side dishes, simply refresh Potato Pearls® with hot water and mix them with things like these:

  • Chopped fresh sage and browned butter
  • Spicy brown mustard
  • Sliced scallions and grated cheddar
  • Sautéed arugula and shallots
  • Zucchini, garlic and parmesan

Also versatile are Golden Grill® Hashbrowns, an easy-to-store, shelf-stable product that needs only a brief refreshing with hot water before using. Try Bacon & Cheddar Hashbrown Stack by topping hashbrowns with bacon, cheese, tomato, eggs and creamy hollandaise sauce, or Hot and Sweet Infused Potato Cakes, made with hashbrowns, hot sauce, sweet barbecue sauce and crumbled blue cheese.

Potato-Dusted Fried Squid Tacos
Developed by bellyQ restaurant, Chicago
Serves 8

Potato Coating
1½ cup Potato Pearls® Natural Mashed Potatoes, dry
1 tbsp. Corn starch
1 cup All-purpose flour
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Garlic, granulated
2 tsp. Salt

Remaining Taco Ingredients
2 lbs. Fresh squid, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch rings and tentacles, halved
2 quarts Corn oil
1 cup Green papaya, thinly sliced
2 tsp. Rice wine vinegar
16 each White corn tortillas
½ cup Belly Fire Hot Sauce
2 each Avocados, medium diced
¼ cup Thai Basil, chopped
1 each Lime, cut into wedges

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine corn starch, flour, paprika, garlic, Potato Pearls® Natural Mashed and salt. Mix gently with your hands to not break up potato flakes.
  2. Heat oil in large, 8-quart sauce pot to 325˚F.
  3. Coat squid in potato coating, shake off excess. Fry in oil until golden brown, about 3 min. Remove calamari and place on plate with paper napkin to absorb excess oil.
  4. Toss green papaya in rice wine vinegar, let sit.
  5. Heat oven to 350˚F. Wrap tortillas in foil then heat in oven until warm and soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. To assemble, double stack warm tortillas and fill with 1/4 cup of crispy calamari. Top with Belly Fire Hot Sauce, diced avocados and shredded green papaya. Garnish with chopped Thai basil and lime wedge on the side.

For additional menu ideas and recipes featuring flavorful, easy-prep potato products from Basic American Foods, visit

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