DEAR BOBBY: I am a single mother of two young children (both under the age of 10). I am desperately trying to get them to eat seafood, but they fight me every time I want to make anything seafood related. They’ve never even tried it! What are some kid-friendly seafoods I can start them out on that they will actually enjoy? – HOPEFUL IN HARLEM
Dear HOPEFUL IN HARLEM,
Getting kids to eat seafood shouldn’t be so hard. The real answer is to introduce them to fish and seafood early, as toddlers even, and to serve it consistently. Make it a regular part of the weekly menu. But it’s never too late. First, you have to start with the freshest fish possible, and that’s our specialty at FultonFishMarket.com. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard stories about parents who buy supermarket fish, bring it home, cook it, stink up the house and force their kids to eat it, turning potential fish lovers into life-long fish haters. So, the most important thing is to start with high quality fish.
The introduction should be with a mild fish; cod for example. Kids love finger food, so homemade crunchy fish sticks, with panko breadcrumbs, might be a good start. Kids love fried everything, and fried fish is probably a good way to start them eating fish. Air frying is a great alternative to deep frying, and homemade fish cakes and fish sticks (I’m stressing homemade here) with homemade tartar and cocktail sauces might win them over. Let the kids help prepare the meal, get their hands in it so to speak. It’ll give them a real sense of accomplishment and confidence when they help bring it to the table. You can also try introducing a little seafood with other things as the main course. For instance, kids love spaghetti, so maybe a few cut up shrimp with pasta will get the ball rolling.
After a while you can introduce fun things, like steamed crabs, and make it a little like an Indiana Jones movie dinner!
An important thing is not to plead with them or cajole them. They have to want to eat it, and with a little finesse you can make them fish lovers for life.
So, in a nutshell, or clamshell if you prefer…
- Start with the freshest fish possible from fultonfishmarket.com.
- Start them early.
- Make seafood a consistent part of the weekly menu.
- Start them off with a mild fish.
- Let them help.
- Introduce the seafood with other things in the meal.
- Bring some fun things into it.
- Don’t plead, cajole or punish them.
It won’t be long before they’re saying to you, “Hey Mom! How about fish tonight!”