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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Soak Fish in Milk for Odor-Free Cooking

When you're buying fish, it's important to make sure your fish smells like the sea, and not, well, like fish. That's one indicator of freshness. However, after the fish has come home, gone into the fridge, or been frozen and thawed, even your freshly bought fish may start to take on a fishy smell. The solution is easy: A quick soak in a bowl of milk, and that fishy smell is all gone.

Here's the science: Trimethylamine oxide is a common chemical in living things—it's colorless, odorless, and produced by normal metabolic processes. When a fish or shellfish is killed however, it breaks down into Trimethylamine, which is the chemical responsible for that fishy smell that we all know so well.

If your cut of fish isn't too far gone: as in the flesh is still firm and it's only a few days thawed at most, a quick soak for about 10-20 minutes in a bowl of milk will help get rid of the odor. The casein in the milk bonds with the trimethylamine, and while it's not a full extraction, a quick soak can pull a good bit out of the flesh and reduce the odor.

Just make sure to pat the fish dry before you season and start cooking. Of course, you won't have this problem if you buy and eat your fish fresh or buy frozen, but this is an old fishmonger's tip that will help you save that filet you thawed Saturday night and forgot to cook until Tuesday.


  1. Thank you for a great cooking advice! I will try it next time I cook fish.

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