Cooking Tip Thursdays: Fish Sans Smell

Cooking Tip Thursdays is dedicated to making time in the kitchen quicker, easier, and just plain better…

Fish provides the body with essential, heart-healthy fatty acids; it can also provide your kitchen with a stench that won’t go away for days.  So it’s understandable that some people are hesitant to cook fish given the difficulty of ridding your home of said odor.  But with a few simple selection and cooking tips you can reap all the health benefits without ever busting out the Lysol:

  • Select the freshest fish possible.  Fresh fish doesn’t give off harsh odors.  A whole fish has clear, shiny and bulging eyes, the gills are red or pink, with a firm texture and shiny scales.  Fish is NOT fresh when it gives off a strong fishy odor, has cloudy, sunken eyes, the gills are grey or brown, the texture is soft and dents easily, and the scales are loose and dull. Don’t be afraid to ask to smell the fish before you buy it.  I do it all the time.  You ideally want a briny, oceany smell.
  • Choose a type of fish that does not naturally have a strong odor. Oily fish usually has a stronger fish smell (i.e. salmon). Flaky, white fish has fewer odors (i.e. cod).
  • Removing the skin from fish helps to reduce any odor.  You can have your fishmonger remove it for you or remove it yourself prior to cooking.
  • Sprinkle a little lemon or lime juice on fish, or place lemon wedges in the baking dish, to influence the smell.
  • Opt for cooking techniques that use lower heat (steaming, poaching, en papillote, slow roasting, baking) as opposed to high heat frying or searing on the stovetop. The hotter the sear/fry, the more smoke and smell that comes off the pan.
  • Cooking in the oven contains the odors, as opposed to anything on the stovetop.
  • If you are cooking on the stovetop, keep the exhaust fan on high.
  • Clean all surfaces, cooking utensils, pots, dishes and the sink drain immediately after using to remove odors that might linger. Remove packaging from raw fish from your house.
  • Boiling cinnamon, lemons, or vinegar while cooking can help mask fishy odors.
  • Worst case: burn a neutral scented candle, like lemongrass or citrus, while cooking.

22 thoughts on “Cooking Tip Thursdays: Fish Sans Smell

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