Around some dinner tables, fish can be a hard sell. Noses turn up, plates are pushed back and there are calls for a PB&J from those who haven’t been won over by their past seafood experiences. Any cook who meets with this kind of resistance would naturally be reluctant to serve seafood to an unwilling table of diners.
It doesn’t take an expert to know, though, that seafood, with its brain-boosting omega-3’s, can be an important part of a family’s healthy diet. So what’s a home cook to do? It is possible to turn the ship around on your family’s attitude toward fish. Here are a few helpful hints when it comes to making seafood converts out of your crew.
Start early. Since many of us develop our eating habits when we’re young, serving your kids seafood at an early age can help them develop a lifelong appreciation.
Tailor the tastes. It’s easier to introduce new tastes to children if they’re interlaced with familiar favorites. So if your kids like their chicken coated in something crunchy, do the same with fish. If they enjoy a particular sauce, then serve it with seafood. The object is to get them to take a bite.
Get the kids into the act. Take them to the store with you and have them help pick out the fish. This can often be fun for little kids, as they usually have whole fish or crustaceans displayed, which to a young child can be endlessly entertaining.
It’s a wrap. One of my favorite ways to get non-seafood lovers to give fish a chance is to bake the fish or shellfish wrapped in paper-thin prosciutto. The prosciutto packs a lot of flavor, which can have the effect of mellowing the fish element, making it a bit more accessible for the timid diner.
Of course, the best way to get a child to eat something is to let them see you enjoying it first. It may take a few attempts and a little persistence, but broadening their palates and adding another healthy option to their diets is well worth it.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.