Fish and kids

Fish! Such a sensitive subject at our home.

Our household is kind of divided in half when it comes to this one.

I grew up absolutely hating fish. I didn’t like the smell of it or looking at it at the store.

The street markets in Italy often would sell it in a different section that was in a semiclosed building. It would lay out there under glass fridges, right at my eye sight, eye balls staring into space, with ice cubes beneath.

The freezers would then slowly drain the fish smelling water from the ice melting, into the streets, which would make those places permanently smell like bad fish.

There were some supermarkets where they would sell lobsters, octopuses, calamari, crabs, catfish, mussels, swordfish, sardines and many more while perfectly preserved and still whole. That was actually amazing to look at.

To me no matter how fresh the fish was, I could not stand the taste of it, though.

Not to mention the tiny bones that were a chocking hazard.

It seemed more dangerous to eat than to leave it alone.

It wasn’t until we moved to the Canary Islands that I started to love fish.

Fishermen would catch it fresh and sell it at the port early mornings.

My mom would fry it or bake it at home. That was a different game all together.

When I became pregnant with our first son I knew I wanted to eat well and balanced for him, so I made it a goal to eat fish ONCE A WEEK!

I knew that fish has good Omega’s. The stuff that makes you smart, haha. It helps your brain for sure.

Too much of it when pregnant is bad, but a good amount is much needed.

Lucky for us, that summer we were living in Anchorage, Alaska. We found a restaurant that made the best fried salmon.

For the first time I would actually crave fish.

Back to my childhood, there were two types of fish that I did always like. Mostly because I didn’t know that they were in fact fish.

One of them was tuna. I liked it because in Italy it’s stored in oil and it’s chunky. So when you open a can of tuna the meat is actually pink and it’s not blended like mush, it’s like actual chunky pieces. I thought it was meat so I loved it.

I did change my love for it the day I found out it wasn’t.

But another delicacy for some reason I truly enjoyed was octopus.

Whether fried or pickled, which I have never found in the US yet, it was just not scary to me for some reason.

Now back to the present day. I have three kids who like fish and one who doesn’t.

Truth is, when none of them knew what was what, they all liked it.

I always made it a point to have fish sticks in my refrigerator when the kids were little as a better alternative to nuggets.

My kids also can handle fried fish very well. Particularly halibut or cod.

Then there is salmon. I have called it pink chicken for my kids. Maybe because of that, they all love it.

Kids eating pink chicken and loving it!

I like to bake my salmon with tahini sauce, ghee, some garlic salt and parsley.

I find it such a healthy protein. I love when the kids eat it.

We did fish eggs too when the kids were younger whenever we ate sushi. We called it candy and they happily loved to eat sushi regardless.

Shrimp pasta is something that David also really likes.

Shrimp and broccoli pasta with Parmigiano

I don’t know what diet my kids will choose to adopt as adults. But I learned to cook by watching my mom so now I like to do the same.

I also know that it may not be appealing to them seeing me deal with raw ingredients, but the alternative is that they may be so detached from where meat comes from that they’ll eat it like apples.

So for that reason even if they don’t love the sight of it, I want them to see how it’s prepared and where it comes from.

Now it doesn’t mean I’ll bring a cow and gut it at home. I used to watch my grandmother do that who lived on a farm.

My grandfather raised cattles in Italy. He lived next door to us. While he would send the cows straight to the butcher so we never had to witness anything happening, I did grow up seeing food at its rawest.

In a way it hasn’t made me want to go Vegan, but it has reminded me that to sustain large populations it’s important to eat it sparingly.

My mom in fact never cooked with a lot of meat. We opted for cheese and beans often as a source of protein.

I have learned to cook a meal for 6 with one chicken breast now.

I always add some pasta, or quinoa, or extra veggies to any meal I make that calls for meat to divide up the amount of meat we place in it. It has allowed us to not cut it out completely, but rather have it in smaller portions.

Now back to octopus. It’s a tougher meat to cook at home I’m not gonna lie. But it’s so refined. I learned to love it because it’s often eaten in Italy and Spain and I have lived in both places.

I GOT MINE STRAIGHT IN THE MAIL. YOU CAN SHOP FOR A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF FISH ON THE PANE PESCA WEBSITE DIRECTLY. It was delivered fresh and arrived in perfect condition at my front door. On the website hey have anything from calamary, clams, shrimp, and other assorted varieties.

My favorite way to make octopus is by creating something that in Italian we call “pastella.” It’s an outer layer that I make mixing some flour, garlic, salt, and egg. It’s a batter that is similar to a pancake batter in consistency. I then dip the octopus in it after washing it and pat drying it.

Then off to the air frier or the pan

Zara cooking fish with mommy!

I made it with little Zara. She was so intrigued by it and not at all scared. She loved sprinkling flour on it, and salt, and was so eager to watch the whole process.

Octopus does best when fried slowly and for a longer time. It becomes tender. And the coating will become nice and gold.

Luckily the meat I bought was already cleaned so so well. It couldn’t have been prepared better. All I had to do was just drain it and dry it and Voila!

For directions on how to cook octopus you can find an awesome article here.

You can find a couple of recipes that I followed HERE and HERE.

Octopus meat supplied by PANE PESCA,

Octopus supplied by PANE PESCA USA.

Love, M. Serena Essuman

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