4 ways to take seafood beyond center of plate

seafood salad

From High Liner Foods.

Seafood—whether it’s in the form of fish and chips or tuna salad—is a menu staple for many foodservice locations. But seafood doesn’t have to be limited to just the center of the plate—it shines on other parts of the menu as well, from soups and salads to sides and snacks.

Here are four ways that seafood and fish are moving outside of the main course.


Starting the meal with soup is common for many diners, and in noncommercial settings, there’s usually an array of soups available each day. According to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report, 43% of consumers say they would eat a soup or seafood stew. Offered in a smaller portion than entree sized bowls, clam chowder can be a hit, as can lobster bisque.

At Indiana’s Purdue University, in the Hillenbrand Hall dining center, students can enjoy asparagus crab soup, and at The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Cambridge Hall, diners can order Cajun shrimp soup.


Salads with seafood in them can be a great meal—they have craveable seafood in a lightened-up format. But despite being a bit lighter than, say, fried seafood, seafood salads don’t have to be lifeless or dull—The Plaza Hotel Food Hall in New York City offers a lobster cobb salad, topped with cucumber, avocado, tomato, bacon, bleu cheese, egg and red wine vinaigrette. And at the Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe’s Echo restaurant, diners can tuck into the Ahi tuna spinach salad, which features sweet peppers, onion and celery with an Indonesian sweet soy raspberry vinaigrette.


Seafood and fish aren’t commonly known as a side dish, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be one. In fact, seafood sides have increased by almost 3% on noncommercial menus in the last five years, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor. Want some inspiration? Try offering up tuna pasta salad, like the University of Texas – Jersey City Limits does, or a seafood pasta salad like the one at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Sandburg Residence Hall.


As consumers shift toward eating more snacks throughout the day (in addition to their meals), operators stand to benefit from offering protein-rich snacks including seafood and fish options. Smaller portions of entrees as well as appetizer-style options are the perfect snack to offer hungry diners. Best of all, they can be prepared in delicious and familiar ways—for instance, at the University of California Los Angeles’ Feast at Rieber dining hall, diners can order a lunch appetizer of fried pollock fish balls. At Scottsdale, Ariz.’s Troon N. Golf Club, the Dynamite Grille restaurant features the Ahi Tuna Tataki appetizer, which includes mango, cucumber, fennel, red pepper, sweet chili Thai sauce and wasabi, for a flavor explosion.

Whether treating themselves to an indulgent dish or trying to keep things lighter, seafood is a great option for diners. From bold flavors like Thai chili to approachable formats like pasta salad and fried fish, seafood is easily adaptable to fit on any part of the menu, from starters to sides, soups to salads and beyond.

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