Share life skills & laughter by cooking with kids

By Lai Kuan •


Lai Kuan loves cooking with her young son & delights in the skills he learns in the kitchen. She shares a delicious Asian inspired minced pork, potato and carrot recipe which she enjoyed as a child and is now passing on to her son.

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Most parents think that young kids can’t handle kitchen utensils well and are only good at messing up the kitchen. Hence, they are reluctant to cook with their kids till they are in their teens.

However, I take a different stand. I truly appreciate the benefits of cooking with kids. The kitchen can be a wonderful place for kids to acquire essential skills. So, I have got my son involved in the kitchen as young as four. I must admit that initially it was quite a daunting task, but as time passes, I get smarter and have learned to control the situation better. Meanwhile, my son has slowly picked up various kitchen skills.

For me, learning can be done anywhere, anytime. So, I use my kitchen as an informal classroom to talk about mathematics, science, arts and life skills. Cracking an egg, sieving flour, rolling dough and piping batters are some of the first few tasks that I have taught him. As he grows up, he gets to try out more complex and difficult tasks like peeling and chopping ingredients. Although these activities may sound simple, they are helpful in training him fine motor-skills, gaining self-confidence, and imparting good values such as patience, responsibility and independence. The big plus point is that he has developed a strong preference for healthy food and never requests for fast food.

Having to bond with my son in the kitchen is the sweetest moment for me. My kitchen is constantly filled with lots of laughter and endless chatting.

When it comes to cooking, I was very much influenced by my mum’s cooking style. I love how she keeps her cooking method simple and chooses ingredients that are common and easily found. This minced pork, potato and carrot recipe is inspired by my mum’s favourite dish. It’s a dish that brings me down the memory lanes of childhood. It’s indeed a comfort food for me.

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This dish is quick and easy to prepare. If you team up with your kids to cook it, they will  have loads of fun. I have precooked the potato and carrot so it helps to cut down the time required for braising the dish. I cut the potato and carrot into tiny cubes to make them more appealing to kids. You can add some green peas to give the dish more contrast. I don’t use much seasoning for the sauce. Instead, I let the mixture of browned onion, minced pork, potato and carrot bring out their natural sweetness. The sauce is simmered till it thickens, giving the ingredients a shiny and flavourful coating.

This dish pairs well with steamed rice or congee. But if you like a lighter meal, you can wrap them in lettuce and turn them into an excellent appetizer. I hope you will give this Asian inspired dish a try, get your kids to join in and enjoy the precious moment cooking together.

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Braised Minced Pork, Potato and Carrot

Serve: 3-4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients

100g minced pork – note 1

180g potato (about 1 medium size potato) – note 2

80g carrot

80g yellow onion (chopped)

Marinade for minced pork

1 ½ tsp light soy sauce

¼ tsp dark soy sauce

¼ tsp sugar

1½ tsp cornflour

Dash of white pepper

Seasoning

1 tbsp oyster sauce

½ tsp sugar

100 ml water

Salt, pepper and sesame oil

Method:

In a small bowl, mix minced pork with light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, corn flour and pepper till well combined. Cover with cling wrap and marinade for at least half an hour.

Peel and dice carrot into small cubes. Boil or steam carrot until cooked. Set aside.

Peel and dice potato into small cubes. Soak potato in water for 5 minutes to prevent them from turning dark. Drain off and pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat up pan with oil over medium-high heat. Stir fry potato until cooked and lightly golden brown. Set aside.

Heat up pan again with oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Push onion aside. Add pork and spread it out. Do not stir fry immediately. Let it cook till slightly caramelized. Flip it over and let the other side cook for a while. Reduce the heat to low and break up the pork into tiny bits. Add the potato and carrot. Stir fry until well mix.

Combine oyster sauce, sugar and water in a small bowl and add to the mixture in step (4). Stir to coat all the ingredients. Cover with lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of potato and carrot). Add a bit of hot water if the sauce runs dry before the potato and carrot turn tender.

When the potato and carrot are almost tender, open the lid and stir until the sauce runs dry.

Season to taste with sesame oil, pepper and salt. Serve well with rice and congee.

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Notes:

1) I used Holland potato but you can use Russet potato too.

2) You can substitute pork with chicken.

3) You can also add a handful of thawed green peas when simmering the carrot and potato.

4) To turn this dish into an appetizer, simply wrap with lettuce. Remember to cut the potato and carrot into fine cube.

Inspired? For more kids recipes to develop lasting skills, visit Great British Chefs Collection.

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Lai Kuan

Lai Kuan is a stay-at-home mum with a passion to inspire parents to cook healthy food for their children through her blog. On Food 4 Tots, you will find recipes that are simple, healthy and practical for kids alongside lots of creative ideas and useful tips on how to introduce nutritious food into a kid's diet. Several of her works have been featured by newspapers, parenting magazines and online media.

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