Vegetarian oyster sauce for the discerning greenie.
Now that the school holidays are upon us, there’s never been a better time to cook up a storm with your budding masterchefs. Read our ten top tips for cooking with kids to hours of holiday fun. Not only will it encourage your kids to get hands-on in the kitchen, it will also introduce them to a new world of flavours and ingredients.
1. Plan Ahead
For recipe inspiration, pull out your favourite cookbooks and food magazines, or scroll through sites such as Asianinspirations.com.au together and let your kids choose the dishes they’re going to create. By taking ownership of the menu, they’ll be much more involved from the outset—and you might just discover a few new favourites along the way.
2. Make a List, Check It Twice
You know how annoying it is when you’re in the midst of cooking a dish and you realise you’re missing a crucial ingredient. Well, it’s even more frustrating for junior cooks! Make sure you have the ingredients and equipment on hand before you get cracking.
3. Be Prepared for Mess
Speaking of cracking, is there any greater kitchen thrill than cracking an egg as a youngster? One of the great joys of cooking is the tactile experience, whether that’s kneading dough by hand, or smooshing together ingredients for meatballs. All of this is going to result in mess, so be prepared with plenty of clean towels and a stool so little ones can reach the sink with ease.
4. And Breakages
Choose plastic bowls and measuring cups over glass where possible.
5. Choose Your Tools
Little ones can still get involved in chopping and prepping ingredients—just be sure to choose a safety knife (a butter knife is ideal)—and let them practise on softer ingredients, such as zucchinis, peeled fruit and herbs. Keep your sharp knives out of reach and don’t rest them on the chopping board, just in case inquisitive kids pull the board towards them.
6. Clean Up Your Act
Wash hands with warm soapy water, secure any loose hair with a hair band or hat, and don aprons.
7. Read Through the Recipe Together
Yes, we’ve all been there… rushing through a recipe only to discover we should have baked this or boiled that way back at the start of the process. To avoid disappointment, and to help kids gain an understanding of the cooking process, take the time to read through the recipe together, then assign them the easier tasks.
8. Taste As You Go
One of the best ways to introduce kids to Asian flavours is to let them sample an array of ingredients. Using clean spoons, rather than fingers, offer them a taste of foods and flavours as they work, but steer clear of pungent seasonings, such as fish sauce, and raw meat products.
9. Supervised Stirring
If your kids are old enough to work with heat, then be sure to stay by their side as they’re cooking on the stove.
10. Share Your Creations
Once you’ve finished cooking, let your kids plate up and then share the meal together. Talk about what you like and don’t like, what you’d change if you were to cooking it again and, most importantly, what they’d like to cook next!