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At Virginia Tech, the dining team noted the popularity of the Bam Bam shrimp bowl, and so turned it into a bao sandwich for another way to get it to go.

Chefs surf seafood’s casual side

Fish gets dressed down (and flavored up) as we start the new year. Laid-back, grab-and-go, fun, fast-casual, unfussy, sustainable, everyday seafood dishes add zip, zing and feel-good, fish-boosted benefits to the menu.

Seafood is so often glammed up—think seafood towers and splashy sushi platters—that it bears reminding that just like us, seafood dishes sometimes really like to keep it casual and throw on some sweatpants, as it were.

When you’re talking salmon bowls, shrimp bao, fish ‘n chips and simple classics like shrimp scampi, seafood is the unassuming and better-for-you choice with just the right amount of trend-consciousness and fun.

Fish ‘n chips 4ever

Morrison Healthcare’s retail culinary team, led by Chef Jeffrey Quasha, makes waves with seafood’s sustainability and wellness aspects, and also tips the toque to fish ‘n chips, that beloved pairing from across the pond that Americans also love.

Food historians (pretty much) agree that fish ‘n chips was brought to the UK by Spanish and Portuguese refugees who were escaping religious persecution centuries ago. Soon, pescado frito, or fried fish, was found for sale on the streets of London anywhere, anytime. And the fries (chips) on the side? Those came from the French or the Belgians—a food history topic that’s actually up for debate.


Morrison Healthcare’s version of this UK favorite is casual seafood to a T.

No matter the origin, the “fish ‘n chippie” meal is part of Morrison’s seafood recipe collection, which also include lots of other fun, fast-casual-friendly menu items starring seafood, such as a spicy-sweet garlic mahi bowl at a Hawaiian-themed pop-up, smoked salmon avocado toast, grilled fish tacos, salmon-citrus lentil salad, sriracha-honey salmon bowls, lobster rolls and salmon breakfast sandwiches.

As Morrison’s VP of Retail Kevin Dorr says, craveable seafood dishes of the grilled and raw variety chart the course for guests to “choose healthier creations sometimes not even knowing that dish was fully created to be wellness-driven.”

Bowls, pasta, grains and seafood: Seaworthy fare

When Massachusetts senior dining Chef to Watch James Pijewski twirls big shrimp into linguine or angel hair pasta for his delicately sauced shrimp scampi, and also linguine with clam sauce, another New England favorite. “For scampi or clam sauces, they’re light so I don’t want a pasta that is too thick or heavy.”


Aramark’s tuna umami bowl features ceviche-style tuna, crunchy edamame and diced cukes, sushi-style rice, scallions, dashes of soy sauce and a big drizzle of spicy mayo.

Seafood pasta dishes are great to put into a bowl for guests to take on the go, as are cold seafood salads, and of course, the popular poke bowls that stirred up the trends a couple years ago and are poised continue through the new year for sure, with their portability and health benefits.

Aramark’s line of healthful bowls includes a tuna bowl that’s an umami bomb of ceviche-style tuna, crunchy edamame and diced cukes, sushi-style rice, scallions, dashes of soy sauce and a big drizzle of spicy mayo. Cura Hospitality’s special chef’s series included healthy bowls, including a ginger-salmon grain bowl with roasted shiitakes, edamame, soy sauce, ginger, crispy onions and a wild rice blend.

Seafood sammies for the win

Resa Smith, of Coffee County (Tennessee) High School’s Culinary Dept., has dual citizenship with the U.S. and Thailand. “I want people to enjoy the delicious, healthy flavors from Thailand,” she says. Her Thai crab sandwich starts with an ingredient you might remember from California rolls—imitation crab stick. Smith shreds the meat over 12-grain bread and tops it with fresh cucumber, tomato and a peanut-sriracha sauce.

At Georgetown University, Harvest Table Culinary Group features tempura-fried catfish in a sandwich that totally makes sustainability waves, the Chesapeake Blue Catfish Slider. This one is case of the method “if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em” method employed by eco-conscious chefs to help get rid of invasive fish from local waters. Blue catfish is a non-indigenous fish to the waters around the Chesapeake Bay and can threaten the ecosystem of the waters.

The “Bam Bam Shrimp Bao” sandwich from the dining team at Virginia Tech is a portable version of the popular shrimp bowl, with fried shrimp and pickled Asian veggies in a kicky sriracha aioli.

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