The ABC's of Cooking with Lynn Fredericks
author of Cooking Time Is Family Time

Lynn Fredericks
gives new meaning to our ABC's.
Each installment will focus on a new ingredient beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. F is for Fish features recipes, fun and family activities with fish.


 F  is for Fish

Fish, seafood, and kids can be an incredibly challenging combination. But, I've learned to respect that what kids object to most about fish is a fishy smell! And kids do have a valid point -- fresh, pristine fish should not smell at all! Clever parents, who are determined to broaden the family's diet to fish and seafood, will search out a clean and respected retailer, one whose establishment is cool in temperature and void of strong odors. Get to know the purveyor and explain to them how you want to make fish and seafood more palatable to your entire family.

Kids need to know there are nutrients in fish and seafood that do not exist (or rarely) in other foods: omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Additionally, fish and shellfish are good sources of zinc, magnesium, calcium, iodine and more nutrients that are important to the body's optimum functioning. A desire to include these in the family diet is to improve health and well being, not to have more 'power' over them, as some kids may think.

Below are some family activities aimed to introduce the appreciation for fresh fish and seafood, along with some proven family-friendly recipes from my book,
Cooking Time Is Family Time.

Let's Cook!


Fishy Inspection!

Schedule a time when you can bring the kids into the store when it's not super busy, and ask the sales help to let your kids make a close-up inspection of several very different species of delicious whole fish - say, snapper, sole, flounder or trout. Let them see that quality fish do not smell, and let them touch and even pick up the fish for further inspection. (If your retailer can order one small fish with scales still on, all the better so the kids can see how the scales feel and you can explain how they protect fish.) Point out that while all fish have the same number of fins and gills they appear different because they have adapted to their environment:

  • Snappers are tropical, red and blend into a coral reef, their heads are usually long and pointed

  • Sole and flounders are flat, bottom feeders whose eyes travel from one side' when they are young to the 'top' as they age, leaving a white underbelly that hugs the ocean floor

  • Wolf fish have huge fangs that stick out of their mouths because they eat hard mollusks and need strong teeth to break down the shells

  • Salmon has more fat under its skin that a warm-water fish to keep it warm in icy northern Atlantic waters
Blind Tasting:

While at the fish store, ask the kids to choose a fish, (you're committing to buy here, so guide them to a smallish one), and ask the fishmonger to show the kids step by step -- slowly -- how they fillet it! See if they can perform this within inches of the kids, so they can really see what is going on and examine the fish in the process. Have the kids select a couple more very different fish and ask the fish monger to fillet them -- unless you now want to try the operation at home! Now you are ready for a family taste test at home to compare the differences in flavor, texture etc.

Prepare each fish the same way -- by steaming them in a bamboo or other steamer at the same time. Serve them with something tasty like the Caribbean Salsa recipe below or other simple veggies and pasta your kids like. Give each family member a small amount of each of the varieties you steamed, and don't tell them which is which (no biases please!).

Ask them to talk about the fish, rating them in order of preference in 3 categories: aroma, taste, and texture. Nine out of ten times, something miraculous happens. The pristine, fresh fish, seasoned with just a touch of salt and pepper, is nearly odorless and taste so deliciously pure, they tend to like them all and want more! I have introduced fish to skeptical children (in addition to my own) in many settings over the years, and when very fresh and steamed, they are always surprised by how much they loved it.

Once they agree that they have found at least one or two types of fish they like, you can reveal the order in which they tasted the different varieties, giving names to their preferences. This really works; steamed fish is so delicate most kids want more! Later, as they get bored with such a light taste, you can start to grill or sautÚ or otherwise prepare fish for your family!



Check out other recipes that bring the whole family together:

>>> Buy This Book

Cooking Time is Family Time: Cooking Together,
Eating Together, and Spending Time Together

by Lynn Fredericks, William Morrow & Co., August, 1999

In COOKING TIME IS FAMILY TIME, Lynn Fredericks shows people how they can improve the time they spend with kids by inviting them into the kitchen to help prepare meals.

Included are 125 recipes emphasizing a variety of fresh, healthful ingredients and strategies to get kids to gobble them down. Each recipe offers directions that specify which steps are right for younger kids and which are more challenging for their older siblings.


Cooking with Kids Home
The ABC's of Cooking ::: Aa |Bb |Cc |Dd |Ee |Ff |Gg |Hh |Ii |Jj |Kk |Ll
Kid's Meals | Lynn's Thoughts on Feeding Her Children | Recipes | Book