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How to Get Rid of That Fish Smell?

Cooking fish doesn’t have to mean lingering odors, our seafood expert explains.

poached salmon

A question I am asked frequently, and a question that many people ask Google, is how to get rid of the fish smell after cooking. I think it’s more about how to buy fish that doesn’t smell and how to cook it so it will produce less fishy smell (I also get asked which cooking methods will produce less fishy smell). Cooks are concerned that odors from the fish will linger in their kitchen or spread into other parts of their home.

 

There are a few things that will help minimize odors from cooking fish:

 

1. Most importantly, buy the freshest and best handled fish you can. Find a fishmonger that you trust and ask them questions about the fish. Fresh, raw fish should smell sweet and briny. Only old and/or poorly handled fish will smell fishy. 

 

(LEARN: What You Need to Know When You're Buying Fish)
braised fish with fennel and tomato
Photography by: Marcus Nilsson

2. Oily fishes like mackerel, sardines, and bluefish will have stronger cooking smells than leaner fishes such as flounder, hake, and snapper.

 

3. Different cooking methods produce differing amounts of cooking odors. If you are concerned about a lingering smell, try methods like poachingsteaming, and braising for cooking fish as they will produce fewer odors. Frying, sauteing, and pan roasting produce more odors as they release more fat particles into the air. (If you have an exhaust fan above your range, use it—and turn it up.)

 

4. An open cup of bleach in your kitchen will counteract all kinds of cooking odors.

 

Watch how to poach salmon, a healthy, delicious, and low smell way to cook this favorite fish: