Cooking for my boyfriend’s son can be a challenge when it comes to fish. Though we live by the Pacific Ocean, spend enough time in the water we could probably all sprout gills, and my boyfriend is literally a commercial diver, you’d think that fish would be a natural go-to. Nope. Not for him.
Try as we might—and trust me, we’ve tried—the kid just wrinkles his nose whenever something even remotely fishy comes around his plate. We’ve coerced, prodded, bribed, even tempted with Sriracha sauce (his favorite!) but he’s stubborn. (And yes, we realize this isn’t the best approach.)
However, after a combination of scouring the internet and using trial and error, we’ve found some of the best tips and tricks for getting picky eaters to try fish. Here’s to hoping these work for you:
1. Sneak it into the favorite dish.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for lying (that rarely ever works). I just mean the accidental “oops, I bumped some tuna into your mac and cheese” type of sneakiness. It’s not about being dishonest, but about showing your kid that fish really doesn’t alter the taste of the food, and really isn’t so bad.
When you can introduce using something that’s already a favorite, chances are he or she will be more receptive.
2. Try making ‘fish chips.’
Even hearing the phrase ‘fish sticks’ makes me gag thinking about those breaded nasty things. Instead of fish sticks, think fish chips. Take a milder fish (like tuna) and cover with breadcrumbs and greek yogurt (unsweetened) to make patties or thin chips. Bake or fry in olive oil and top with garlic salt and other seasonings, if desired. These can be eaten in ‘chip’ form, or put on a hamburger bun, too!
3. Involve your kids in the process.
Okay, so maybe your kid doesn’t like fish, but what if you included him or her in the entire process—from shopping, to cooking, to serving? When kids have the opportunity to act independently, it gives them autonomy and perhaps can make them more open to new things.
Take it slow and see if you can introduce fish in a way that make them more comfortable with the whole idea, as they have a bit of a say while helping you.
4. Make it a ‘dipping party.’
If the taste is the problem, see if you can encourage your child to eat fish with different sauces: ranch, A1, chipotle, Tabasco, etc. Make it a fun ‘dipping party,’ where they can pick the different flavors and can even make you try some of their weird flavor experiments. (Warning, this can get messy!) But in the end, if they’re eating—that’s the goal!