Kids Should Know More About Fish Than Just Fish Sticks

Kids Should Know More About Fish Than Just Fish Sticks

Every kid grows up with a different plate of food. Simple or complex. Fast food or free range. I'm striving to make sure my kids have positive memories of healthy, delicious food. Starting off right fuels a life of good culinary decisions. Their health is at stake more than ever, plus they will share the knowledge with their kids. Pay it forward, as they say.

Fish is sometimes an undiscovered country on many dinner tables. There really should be no barrier to wonderful, nutritious fish. I won't get into the health benefits, largely because the studies on those can change and I want to focus blogging about the grilling and kids' sides of the story.

There is no lack of variety of fish in the sea and you can usually prepare them like any meat. The key point with kids is to make sure it looks cool and that you hear the words "this is awesome!" after they take the first bite. My kids are 6 and 8. One is more adventurous than the other, but luckily looks up to the daredevil eater. So I'm hopeful my wife and I will see a "balance" soon. If you are a parent, I'm sure you can relate!

I like to grill-smoke on my 22" Weber One-Touch using a combination of apple and cherry wood chunks. I setup my 18" Weber One-Touch for overflow if I'm cooking for a family gathering. My two favorite fish to grill are rainbow trout and salmon. I prefer to grill the trout whole because you get added flavor from the bones and the whole fish generally retains more moisture. Salmon shines when you let it bathe in a boldly-flavored marinade. Anytime I grill salmon, my kids jump for joy and have seconds (and sometimes thirds!). Ultimately once you convince a kid's senses, they look forward to the next time.

Preparation for rainbow trout and other white fish can be simple:

  •          Four whole fish
  •          Dust each fish with salt and pepper, on all sides
  •          Lay green onions lengthwise across each fish (you can also use your favorite herbs)
  •          Cover each with thin slices of lemon, orange and lime (3-4 usually cover one fish)
  •          Tip: Grilling fish on cedar will add flavor and prevent burning
  •          Remember for whole fish up to 1 lb., cook them 15 to 20 min over indirect medium heat (350° to 450°F)

Preparation for salmon is always more complex (I cannot avoid it!):

  •          2 large fillets, about 1" thick, preferably with skin on
  •          Whip up a marinade in a blender including soy or fish sauce, lime juice, orange juice, sweet Japanese mirin, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, green onions, ginger, shallot and garlic. If it's too sweet or thick, just add some water and blend again. If you like kicking your tongue in the pants, you can add sriracha or other spicy chili sauce. I usually add a squeeze or two (1 tsp) and the kids don't mind.
  •          Put the salmon in a zip top bag, pour half of the marinade over the fish, gently press the air out and seal the bag. Let it sit in a bowl in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible.
  •          Pour the remaining marinade in a small sauce pan, mix with brown sugar and more soy or fish sauce. Reduce by half and use as a baste during cooking and finishing sauce.
  •          For these salmon fillets grill them skin side down, at least 5 to 10 min direct high heat (450° to 550°F), turning once.
  •          Let rest on a sheet pan, covered with foil. Serve with finishing sauce.

Try grilling a new fish you've never tried. Try grilling your favorite fish a different way.

Go and be bold. Grill on!

What are your thoughts?