Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fun with Fishy Finger Food!

My 2 year old son LOVES the British children's books and dvds "Charlie & Lola". They really are adorable, and I don't mind reading and watching them over and over and over and over... One of the things I like about Charlie & Lola is that they live in a modest apartment, not a McMansion, and they spend lots of time outdoors, in their local park, going to the library, etc... and, unlike my son, they never watch tv!

One of the best things about Charlie & Lola is the first episode, from Charlie and Lola, Vol. 1, where Charlie (Lola's older brother) convinces Lola to eat all of the foods that she doesn't like, such as carrots (orange twiglets from Jupiter), peas (green drops from Greenland), mashed potato (cloud fluff from the top of Mt Fuji) etc. My son will therefore now eat all of these foods happily, because Lola eats them.

Most importantly, Charlie gets Lola to eat fish fingers (ocean nibbles for mermaids). I was lucky for a while because my son would eat fresh and canned fish (the bones are a great source of calcium), but more recently he has stopped eating all fish (he still eats the bones, which are a nice crunchy treat and especially good for a kid that has a dairy-free diet). Since becoming obsessed with Charlie & Lola he has been asking for fish fingers. This is a bit of a problem, since he is also gluten-free, and I haven't, as yet, found gluten-free fish fingers, and especially not organic, sustainably harvested, mercury-free (etc...) fish fingers.... at least not in Australia... maybe in America!

So as with most things, I had to make them from scratch... my first attempt was remarkably successful... I bought some white fish from the supermarket, sliced it into "fingers", crumbed it with a mixture of organic rice flour and some rice bread crumbs, and fried it lightly in rice bran oil until golden brown. They were delicious! My son loved them, and even ate them re-heated for lunch the next day!

Flush with my initial success, I tried again a few days later, but this time I felt bad about having chosen a cheap, farmed in Thailand fish, so I picked a more expensive, wild-caught in Australia, Blue Grenadier. Sadly it didn't hold its form as well as the farmed fish, and it really was more like "ocean nibbles" than fish fingers.

I ended up with a lot of crumbly fish left, so the next night I tried making it into fish patties... first time lucky with these as well, and they passed the "lunch the next day" test too... I made them by mixing the cooked fish with some leftover organic potato and leek soup, some sea salt and organic rice flour (to bind it together). I also lightly fried them in rice bran oil until golden brown...

Again the second time was not as successful... I got cocky from my previous successes and thought I could be clever and slip some brussels sprouts into the fish patties... no such luck! He picked up on it straight away... "No like it". He ended up eating a fair amount, but painstakingly picked out all the green bits...

My next project is to make them really organic. There is some fantastic organic fish available in Australia from Soul Fish. Sadly it is not widely available, and I have to head to the Prahran Markets to get it, frozen, and then transport it quickly home before it thaws, as it comes in packs of 5 filets.

I know there is a lot more organic fish available in North America, and hopefully it will catch on here... I'll let you know how I go with the organic, gluten-free, mercury-free, sustainable fish fingers!


Futuristics said...

NICE Blog :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good way to kids to eat fish. Rice Oil is good for people with food intolerences-it is hypoallergenic and is loaded with antioxidants...good job.

Annie said...

Thanks for the comments :-)

Rice Bran Oil has been great for my son, who is sensitive to salicylates, which are naturally occurring chemicals in some foods, including olive oil, which I normally do most of my cooking with.

Lynn from said...

I love how you are reporting on your cooking experiments....great ideas, all.

But in NA, we don't have certified organic fish. Fish is sold as organic, but it's really just fancy farm-raised fish.

We do have certified sustainable fish - that's what I look for when shopping.