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Advances Help Steam Foods Grow

Most of the attention at food shows goes to the fun, “around the plate” foods like chocolates and cheeses, teas and olive oils. “Center of the plate” offerings are usually few and far between. But this year, I am already noticing a handful of companies offering items that answer the daily question, “What’s for dinner?”

One company in particular caught my eye and piqued my interest with its steamable, sustainable seafood entrees like Japanese Black Sesame Wild Ahi Tuna, Veracruz Style Tilapia and Wasabi Ginger Wild Salmon. These are not your chemical-feast TV dinners of yore; instead, they are all-natural, flavorful meals with seafood as the protein of choice. These products were in trays, but more and more steamable meals are popping up in grocers’ freezers in bags that perform the same function.

Another company out of the Chicagoland area is producing restaurant-quality meals much like you can find in high-end European retailers like Picard in France. They are starting with high-quality ingredients to produce an upscale meal — also in a steam bag — that you would be proud to serve to your family and friends.

Interestingly enough, this steamable technology cropped up first in private label offerings from Europe before it was adopted by frozen vegetable producers. The frozen veggie manufacturers have been on board with steam-in-the-bag offerings for the past few years now, so it’s a natural transition that the entrée manufacturers would follow suit. Now that most households in America cannot “cook” without a microwave, we’re seeing new item introductions with microwave-only instructions. The day of the dual microwave or oven tray seems to be a thing of the past.

Keep your eyes peeled for new offerings in both the branded and private label sectors for frozen steamable meals. The bar has been raised, not only in terms of the packaging and cooking technology, but in the quality of the food itself. We are beginning to experience the joys of a restaurant-quality meal in the comfort of our own homes and I believe that this is simply the tip of the iceberg. We will see this trend continue, enabling us to experience an amazing food experience as armchair travelers—the ultimate luxury when time and money are valuable commodities.