COOKING FOR CHILDREN; If the best of British doesn't get your children's mouths watering, then try something more exotic, says Annabel Karmel
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Cajoling children to eat against their will can be a huge waste of time and energy. It's particularly galling when your recalcitrant six-year-old tucks in with gusto at the local Chinese restaurant but can't be tempted so much as to taste your lovingly prepared dishes.

Perhaps we should look further afield than the nearest frozen-food cabinet and offer food from other cultures to stimulate the taste buds. Supermarkets now stock a much wider international range of foods which can be used to make wonderful recipes, and it's surprising what a touch of soy sauce can do to increase child appeal.


You can add other vegetables like peppers or mushrooms.

Makes 4 skewers

3 tablespoons each of sake, soy sauce and mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

12 tablespoon each of sugar and honey

8 boned chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts

2 large spring onions, cut into 2cm/1in lengths

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Soak four bamboo skewers in water to prevent them from scorching. Put the sake, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and honey into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

Cut the chicken breasts into chunks and thread on to the skewers alternately with the spring onion. Stir the vegetable oil into the sauce and brush the chicken liberally with the sauce. Then, cook under a preheated grill, turning and basting frequently for about eight to 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.


You can add diced chicken or cooked prawns to this dish.

Serves 4

225g/8oz basmati rice

1 small onion, finely chopped

75g/3oz carrots, washed, scrubbed and diced

75g/3oz frozen peas

75g/3oz sweet red pepper, deseeded and diced

3 tablespoons vegetable or sesame oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 spring onion, finely sliced

a little soy sauce (optional)

Wash the basmati rice thoroughly and allow to dry. Cook according to the packet instructions in a saucepan of lightly salted water until tender.

Steam the vegetables for five minutes or until they are tender. Fry the beaten eggs in one tablespoon of the oil until set, then cut into thin strips.

Put two tablespoons of oil into a wok or frying pan and saute the onion until softened. Add the steamed vegetables and rice and cook, stirring for two to three minutes. Add the egg and chopped spring onion and cook for a further two minutes continuing to stir. If you like, sprinkle with a little soy sauce just before serving.


If you are not keen on beef then this can be made with chicken or lamb instead.

Serves 4

275g/l0oz lean beef steak, fillet, sirloin or rump cut into strips

12 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, finely sliced (optional)

12 tablespoon spring onion, finely sliced

1 small onion, finely sliced

l00g/4oz mangetouts or courgette strips

100g/4oz baby corn, cut in half

100g/4oz button mushrooms, sliced

4 tablespoons chicken stock

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sake (rice wine) or 1 tablespoon sherry mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon each of sesame oil and cornflour

Mix together the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the beef for about 30 minutes.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan and stir-fry the beef until lightly browned. Remove the beef strips with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion and garlic (if using) to the pan and stir-fry for two minutes. Add spring onion, mangetout, baby corn and mushrooms and stir-fry for two minutes more. Add the stock and continue to cook for two to three minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the oyster sauce, bring to a simmer, return the beef strips to the wok, toss thoroughly with the sauce and heat through. Season to taste.