Gotta picky eater?

Here are some yummy traditional foods that kids will like

By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

It is commonly known that food is one of the best ways to bring people together, especially during family-oriented holidays.

However, traditional cuisine may not be the most appetizing to younger family members. But just because the children are craving more familiar dishes doesn’t mean that seasonal foods and flavors need to be sacrificed for their palettes.

Here are some kid-friendly options, as well as modern approaches to classics, that will please the children — in addition to the children at heart — in your family.

Chinese almond cookies are often seen as the hallmark of Chinese sweets. The familiar shape and dessert concept will become an instant hit with the kids. Chinese almond cookies are heady with almond flavor from almond extract, almond flour, and whole almonds. The treat also calls for lard which gives the cookie its unique taste and flaky texture. However, lard can be substituted with margarine as a healthier alternative.

The round cookie shape is thought to symbolize coins and will be sure to usher in wealth and good fortune for those that consume them.

Banh chung  is known to represent the Earth in Vietnamese culture. This traditional cake is made from glutinous rice that is stuffed with mung bean and fatty pork. The cake is then rolled in a banana leaf, molded into a square shape, and then boiled for hours. When sliced into wedges, banh chung can serve as a light, balanced meal for kids. It can also be dipped with sugar, and be served fried with pickled vegetables.

Teokguk is from Korea. It is tradition to eat this rice cake soup on New Year’s Day, as it symbolizes luck for the upcoming year and grants an additional year of life to each person that consumes it. Children eager to grow a year older will happily slurp up the soup, which consists of an array of rice cakes, eggs, meat, dried seaweed, and mandu (dumplings).

Jin deui: About the size of one’s fist, jin deui is a deep-fried pastry made from glutinous rice flour. Jin deui are covered with sesame seeds on the outside, and are often crunchy and chewy. The inside is hollow, due to expansion of the dough, and is filled with a filling made from lotus, black bean, or red paste.

Like many New Year foods, jin deui promises to bring good fortune and is a popular pastry in South China.

The shape and size makes it easy for kids to hold and consume, while the crispy texture will satisfy their taste buds.

Mut ranges in taste from sweet to mildly spicy. Mut are dried, preserved fruit candies that represent flavors found all over Vietnam. Typical mut treats include lotus seeds, as well as tamarind, ginger, winter melon, and coconut sweets that are sugar coated and colored to bring in good fortune for the New Year. Mut makes for kid-friendly, finger food that can also serve as a light and sweet snack.

Ice cream is a Western dish that can be approached using traditional Asian foods and flavors. Many children take delight in ice cream, whether it’s served in a cone or a bowl. Parents can try putting a spin on this classic treat by providing ice cream in flavors more attune to the New Year, such as coconut, jackfruit, or durian. Fruit sorbets would also be a health-conscious choice. ♦

Vivian Nguyen can be reached at

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