Ketchup, Asian Style
From Michel Nischan: Heartbeat at W New York, New York
>>> Michel Nischan's Homepage on StarChefs

Adapted by

One of the most challenging things about being a chef/father is realizing that you have limited influence over what your children eat. Restaurant's working hours keep most chefs away from their families during the crucial eating times of lunch and dinner. After all, breakfast is all about fruit and cereal or grains, not much of an influential culinary opportunity there. As a result, many chefs' children fall victim to the eating habits of their peers. McDonald's, Burger King and Friendly's become the norm, causing children to cringe at the thought of a beautifully roasted sweet pepper.

I've found good success in approaching my children from flavor angles they are comfortable with. Adding pickled ginger juice and ketchap manis to regular ketchup (something in which they can dip their fries) makes for a mild taste change while peaking their interest about the ginger and manis. Taking them on a journey also helps. Finding back-up materials on regional foods is a no-brainer given the plethora of cookbooks available. Speak about the region, show some pictures, and they're on an imaginary airplane to a far away place! Eventually, childhood curiosity gets the best of them and they actually taste the raw ingredients. Like a small miracle, you come home one day to find them dipping their fries in ketchap manis. Getting the children involved in making the recipes is the real hook. When they take ownership of the process, all is won!


  • 1/2 cup of your kid's favorite ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchap manis (sweet soy)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons pickled ginger juice
  • Optional: 1 Tablespoon pickled ginger finely chopped with 1 Tablespoon of lime or lemon zest

Combine the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and blend well. Refrigerate for one hour, bake or buy some fries and take a journey to the East!

Tips When Cooking With Kids:

1) Cut new things into the smallest pieces possible. This will tone-down the initial flavor impact of the new ingredient.

2) Do not force or even encourage a child to taste the raw product first. The reasoning behind this approach is to temper the tastebuds by introducing flavors gradually through mediums that their palates already understand. There is a thin line between encouragement and prodding. Test them on the raw ingredients only when they are ready.

3) Have lots of fun. Be very up beat and play on the journey. There is a reason why children generally do better in geography than math. World travel and great chefs go hand in hand. Come to think of it, I don't believe I know any mathematician/chefs.



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