How-To Prevent Fish Odor When Cooking Seafood In Your Home

Growing up, one of my favorite smells was from my grandfather frying fish on the back porch in the summertime. His daily catch was egg battered and breaded in a cornmeal mixture that I wish I remembered how to make it. However, as much as my grandmother loved the meal, there was a reason he cooked on the back porch; frying made the home particularly pungent, so ventilation was necessary. (Thank goodness for outside space.) The house stayed fresh, our bellies full, and all were happy. Especially my grandmother. 

I understand some are intimidated to cook fish, but I’m here to share ways to prevent and eliminate odors while cooking seafood inside the home. Besides its nutritional content and supporting local fishermen, one of the great things about seafood is its versatility when preparing and eating it. (Plus, it’s quick and easy to cook!) Using a few pro tips below, may the fear of cooking seafood be no more!

How-To Prevent Fish Odor When Cooking Seafood In Your Home

  • Buy fresh fish. Did you know that an essential way to avoid the fish smell in your home is by using fresh, high-quality fish? The fish odor comes from the breakdown of acid and fat compounds, called TMA, and a bacterial breakdown that happens when seafood hits the air. Visit your local fishermen and seafood markets for the freshest catch. It’s as easy as walking the docks and asking around! 
  • Grocery stores also offer quality fish if you know what you’re looking for. For example, check if the eyes are bright and clear, scales are shiny, and the flesh is firm, moist, and with a fresh-cut appearance (no discoloration around the edges). Also, make sure that pre-packaged steaks and fillets are air-tight.
  • Turn on the kitchen hood vents and open the windows while cooking. Or, like grandpa, prepare it outside.
  • Cook seafood in lemon or vinegar. The acid reacts with the TMA to reduce the smell.
  • Put a bowl of white vinegar on the kitchen counter while cooking and overnight. 
  • This next trick is an excellent house freshening hack to use at any time and great use of those extra California citrus peels! In water, simmer citrus slices or peels, cinnamon sticks, and ground ginger for fifteen minutes or longer. (Combine or leave out items as you wish.) For an extra boost, walk around your space with the steaming pot so the vapors can sweeten all areas of your home. 
  • I also read that adding baking soda and water to a crock pot on low for a few hours or overnight will do the trick.
  • Some people use milk! If you soak raw fish in milk for up to twenty minutes, “the milk’s casein protein binds to the TMA and reduces odor.”
  • Remember to rinse raw fish in cold water and pat dry before freezing.

If you have a tip, we’d love to hear it! Please send it to! Thanks for reading, and happy seafood eating!

If you liked this, you’d love the Top 8 U.S. Wild-Caught Seafood Items at Costco.

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