Unless you are lucky enough to eat fish straight off the dock, it will have some level of “fish”. But the smell is not synonymous with bad fish; it’s just science. Through fish physiology, a compound called trimethylamine (TMA) is produced when the fish dies, responsible for that “fishy” smell.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, soaking fish in milk for 20 minutes will neutralize and eliminate the unpleasant smell. The milk protein, casein, binds to TMA. After 20 minutes, the milk is drained, taking the TMA with it and leaving a fragrant trickle in its place. Susan Olayinka uses this method when preparing her Pan-Seared Swordfish recipe. She notes that the milk also tenderizes dense fish and leaves a milder flavor. Simply dry the fish and continue with your recipe.
Although freshwater fish, such as trout and catfish, do not become as “fishy” as saltwater fish, they can smell “muddy”, which is not pleasant either. . Blue-green algae in surface waters where it is warm, shallow and sunny can produce a toxin that penetrates the skin of the fish, causing this odor. With these types of fish, adding an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, should eliminate any unpleasant odors, according to Nutrition.
Try this unexpected ingredient the next time you cook salmon, shellfish, or even stinky blue fish. It will keep your house from smelling fishy, and maybe convert your carnitarian at home too.