I spent my entire childhood convinced that I did not like fish. I would eat fish sticks and shrimp and, ironically, I declared that “Red Lobster” was one of my favorite restaurants…but, no…I was not a fan of fish. If it was not breaded and fried beyond recognition, I wrinkled my nose at it. The good news is that ,eventually, I gave up my aversion to this particular food and now find myself trying to get my own kids to eat fish. There’s good reason to keep trying. Fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, are a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for healthy brain and eye development in children. Omega-3s have also been shown to lower your risk of dying from heart disease. There has been some concern regarding contaminants like mercury in certain types of fish, but if you avoid larger fish like shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel, the health benefits outweigh the risks. This article and this one explain the health benefits and risks of seafood if you want to read more.
If you want to entice your family to eat more fish (or to even try it at all!) here are some tips that you can try.
1. Introduce it early in your child’s life and include it on the menu weekly.
2. Buy the freshest fish you can and use it the same day if possible.
3. Make sure there are no bones in the fish. We rarely find any in the main types that we buy (salmon and codfish).
4. Start with mild tasting fish like cod, halibut, sole and salmon.
5. Use a glaze or seasonings that you know your kids like. If your child does not like sauces and seasonings, just stick with something simple like butter and salt.
6. Serve the fish in very small portions. Put small, bite sized pieces on toothpicks to dip in a sauce.
7. Try a variety of presentations…fish kebabs, fish tacos, and fish sandwiches on a bun are all ways that allow you to customize with fillings and toppings.
We usually prepare fish very simply…oil or butter a baking dish, sprinkle salt and pepper on the fish and dot it with butter (or drizzle with olive oil) and then bake for 15-20 minutes in a 375 or 400 degree oven, depending on the fish. Pictured below are some simple sauce ideas to use with fish and I’ve included a recipe for an Asian sauce from Katie Workman’s cookbook, “The Mom 100 Cookbook”.
GARLIC SOY SAUCE From The Mom 100 Cookbook
~3 Tablespoons soy sauce
~2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
~1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
~1 Tablespoon brown sugar
~1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. You can pour some of the sauce over salmon before you cook it, rubbing it in with your fingers. Then drizzle the remaining sauce over the fish after it’s been cooked. Or use the sauce for dipping the cooked fish into.