Getting kids to try fish

shutterstock_69078553 girl fish

Got a reluctant fish eater in the house?  You’re not alone.

Unless it’s in the form of luminous fishfingers or deep fried in batter, many children seem determined to leave fish on the side of their plate.

In fact, the most recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggests that the average consumption of oily fish is well below the recommended one portion a week amongst all age groups.

Yet fish is a good source of protein, and has many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are particularly high in omega 3 fatty acids, which may help to keep your heart healthy.  The Government’s Eatwell Guide recommends including at least two portions of sustainably sourced fish a week, one of which is oily fish, as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

So, if your child is fish-phobic, try some of our simple tips to get them enjoying this tasty, varied and nutritious food.

1. Bag it!

Children (and adults) often find the lingering smell of fish off putting. This can be avoided by cooking it in a bag. Most supermarkets will seal your fresh fish in a special ovenproof bag, so all you need to do is read the instructions and pop the whole thing in the oven, bag and all.  If you don’t have an ovenproof bag, wrap the fish fillets loosely in greaseproof paper or foil before putting them in the oven. Be careful when you open them – they’ll be hot!

2. Super sarnies

Although canned tuna is a good source of protein, it doesn’t count as an oily fish. Try substituting tinned salmon, mackerel or sardines in sandwiches. If your child isn’t keen on these, try mixing them – tuna and salmon work well together with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of low-fat natural yoghurt. Add some cucumber or lettuce for extra freshness and crunch.  Always choose fish canned in spring water or tomato sauce, rather than oil or brine.

3. Fire it up

With the lighter evenings upon us, fish is a fantastic barbeque choice. It cooks in minutes, unlike chicken legs or sausages. Encourage your kids to make fish kebabs – chunks of salmon and/or prawns on a skewer with peppers, courgettes or cherry tomatoes. Brush them with a tasty marinade made from a little vegetable oil and herbs, give them three minutes each side et voilà! Dinner is served.

4. Let them eat cake

Fishcakes are a fabulous way of getting more fish into the diet. They can be adapted to make use of almost any fish with different seasonings and vegetables. Make them into burgers with rolls, lettuce and tomatoes; or make mini-patties to take on a picnic. See our Mini Thai Salmon Fishcakes with Minty Yoghurt Dip recipe for more inspiration.

5. Make fishy friends

If you’re lucky enough to have a local fishmonger, use them! Fishmongers can advise on cooking methods and times, as well as cleaning, filleting and de-skinning your fish. You can also ask for advice at the fish counters at your supermarket.

For more fishy inspiration, check out our new Fishy dishes recipes collection, which we put together with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).