Asian food is possibly one of the most familiar cuisines to children but there are a lot more kid-friendly flavors to explore in Asian food beyond teriyaki chicken. This resource guide can help direct you to new flavors, new recipes, and lots of kid friendly resources to help you.
If you haven’t gone over the above guide it’s a good place to start so that you can successfully introduce your children to new and adventurous foods.
Tips to Make Asian Food Kid Friendly:
- Include Known Favorites. Asian cuisine is so handy because you can add in pretty much any vegetable you have on hand! I always try to add in a few that are different colors or sizes to add some visual variety. Make sure that at least one is something that your kid already loves, and try one that they might not be so familiar with.
- RICE! Rice is a great fall back because kids love it! It’s easy to make, its helps dilute new flavors and sauces, and its a basic staple for Asian cuisine.
Top Ten Flavors of Asian Cuisine:
- Ginger– The holy trinity of Asian cuisine. Ginger is a fragrant spice that is often used both fresh and dried. You can buy fresh ginger and keep it in the freezer unpeeled in a freezer ziploc bag for whenever you need it.
- Miso Paste– A fermented bean product made with soy beans and salt and mixed with various spices, miso paste is high in sodium but adds lots of umami (aka savory) flavor to dishes. Miso soup is a kid friendly starter with it’s resemblance to chicken noodle soup.
- Chinese 5 Spice– Although not used in every dish, Chinese 5 spice is a key ingredient in many pork recipes. The spice is commonly made up of a blend of cinnamon, star anise, ginger and ground cloves. Some recipes add peppercorns or other spices.
- Soy Sauce– Soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans and has a very strong salty flavor. The less common form of soy sauce is dark soy sauce which differs from the soy sauce most people are familiar with. Dark soy sauce is richer and darker because of the added molasses which also adds sweetness and thickness to the sauce. Dark and light soy sauce are not interchangeable but they can be also be used together.
- Sesame Oil– Mostly used as a finishing oil or in dressings, Sesame oil is very aromatic oil. Due to it’s strong flavoring a little goes a long way.
- Rice Vinegar– Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and is commonly used for sauces and marinades.
- Scallions- Scallions, also known as green onions, are used across the board as a garnish when finely chopped. Larger pieces can be lightly cooked and their mild onion flavor doesn’t overwhelm dishes.
- Oyster Sauce– Made from oyster extract, oyster sauce adds lots of flavor and really adds some richness to dishes. It is a bit sweet and salty and dark in color.
- Hoisin Sauce– Thick almost like barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce is sweet and salty. Can be used in sauces or as it’s own dipping sauce.
- Shiitake Mushrooms– Readily available at many grocery stores, online, and in Asian markets, dried shiitake mushrooms add a wonderfully rich savory flavor to dishes. You can use them whole or sliced depending on your preference and the dried mushrooms keep well in the pantry for months.
Tools and Gadgets for Eating Asian Food at Home:
- Kid-Friendly Chopsticks make eating Asian food not only seem authentic, but WAY FUN!
- Wok or Stir Fry Pan– a flat bottomed non-stick wok or stir fry pan is the best all around choice for home cooks and work well on all stove top types.
Additional Kid Friendly Resources About Asian Culture:
- Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
- A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
- Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
- Kubo and the Two Strings
- Kung Fu Panda
- Wild China (on Netflix)
- Ghost of the Mountains (on Netflix)
- Born in China (on Netflix)
Kid Friendly Asian Recipes:
Slow Cooker Honey Chinese Chicken– A good starter recipe for kids, this chicken combines familiar flavors with new ones like hoisin sauce for a sweet and sticky main dish.
Asian Salmon in Foil– Again, using familiar flavors you can introduce a new protein source to kids that is super easy to prepare.
Cantonese Black Pepper Beef– Coarse grind black pepper is the star of this dish made of steak, peppers, onions, and green beans.
Thai Style Peanut Chicken Rice Bowl– The peanut sauce for this dish is out of this world. Serve it up with the kids favorite vegetables and allow them to make their own bowl. Having ownership of the dish helps them be excited to try new things.
Japanese Style Pepper Steak– Made with steak and peppers, this dish is so easy to prepare and can be ready in 30 minutes.
Korean BBQ Burger– A classic meets the rich flavors of Korean BBQ! A Korean BBQ patty is topped with a sweet and tangy coleslaw that packs ton of flavor into so few ingredients.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs– This Chinese restaurant staple gets a twist using easy homemade meatballs. Kids love helping chop the peppers up!
Slow Cooker Korean Style Short Ribs– Korean BBQ is super popular and for good reason. This can be made in a slow cooker for an easy weeknight dinner.
Instant Pot Chinese Pork Shoulder Soup– The rich broth of this soup is also the cooking stock for the pork shoulder. It is perfect for a cold busy night and is incredibly satisfying.
Mango and Mandarin Orange Duck Salad– Containing many of the flavors listed above this salad can be made with duck or chicken depending on how adventurous you are.