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My sister really doesn't like a strong fish flavor and is very picky. Are there any effective ways to prepare the seafood in such a manner that reduces the fishy flavor/taste? If "seafood" is too broad, then please limit your answer to include fish and prawn.


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Why do you want to cook fish for someone who doesn't like it? Why not just give her something else? –  Paul Butcher Mar 1 '11 at 21:21
Erm, but I never said that she doesn't like fish, only the strong fishy taste. –  O.O Mar 2 '11 at 13:23

6 Answers 6

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Fresh seafood shouldn't be overly "fishy". It's generally older seafood that will get a stronger "fishy" smell and flavour.

That said, there are 3 approaches to a "less fishy" result:

  1. Absorb/reduce fishiness: you can always try something like soaking it in milk (which you can then save to use for a fishy bechamel when your sister isn't dining with you). You could then rinse it off and cook it however you want. This should help "absorb" some of the fishiness and make it milder.
  2. Disguise fishiness: The other angle is to "cover up" the flavour with lots of spicy glaze or garlic/lemon flavours instead.
  3. Pick mild seafood: The other thing to try is to pick a more mildly flavoured fish (e.g. a white fish instead of something like tuna or salmon). Avoid oily fish as they tend to have a stronger flavour. Choosing something really fresh also falls into this category.
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I've seen one person powder a prawn with corn starch and salt and then rinse it off, does this fit in #1? –  O.O Feb 27 '11 at 23:03
@subt13 - One usually dusts things in corn starch (or flour) to absorb moisture, rather than do anything affecting flavour. Dusting and then rinsing off seems a bit counter-intuitive from this perspective. I can't imagine that a light powdering would do much to reduce fishiness but it's unlikely to do anything detrimental either. –  Allison Feb 28 '11 at 12:28
Bay leaf is another herb which masks the fishy smell as well.. –  notthetup Mar 4 '11 at 16:54

An old trick from the Indian subcontinent is to rinse it well, dust lightly with salt and powdered turmeric and leave for half an hour or more. You can rinse this off before cooking or leave it on - turmeric is a good source of that very desirable umami taste.

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You should leave it covered, in the fridge. And not out on your counter for that length of time. –  yossarian Feb 27 '11 at 21:33
I suppose it depends on where you live, but generally speaking, if fish spoils on your counter after half an hour, you need to find a new supplier ;-) Incidentally, turmeric is a powerful but gentle antibacterial agent so mitigates your (imo slightly paranoid) concerns. –  5arx Feb 27 '11 at 21:40

My mom taught me to soak all seafood in milk to remove the strong fishy flavor. It really works!

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to soak the fish in milk for how long before rinsing. –  user25970 Jul 17 '14 at 6:39

Mix vinegar with fresh water then soak fish in it for 5 minutes; rinse and dry it with paper towel before marinating. This method will be able to reduce 50% fishy smell. You should not cook fish if you want to remove fishy smell 100%. Ben

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Your final sentence contains a slight ambiguity. I assume you mean it is best to avoid fish if you want to avoid the smell altogether, not that you should eat uncooked fish. –  Chris Steinbach Jul 4 '14 at 19:08

One additional consideration in fishiness is the fat itself. My wife dislikes fishy flavor, and so when she eats salmon (for example), she enjoys the pink parts, but dislikes the gray (which are typically near the skin where much of the fat resides). Most of the 'fishiness' is indeed in that oil - a slight rancidity to the oil, perhaps, but more often simply the oil itself is what is disliked (google "fish oil pills" and you'll see all sorts of comments).

As such, I cook the fish in a manner that does not disperse the oil (so grilling or sautéeing is out - a good poach in vegetable broth works though) and then give her the pinker parts, reserving the fattier, tastier parts for myself and the little ones: as such, we both win (I get better fish, my kids get smarter, and my wife doesn't complain about fishiness!)

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cajun spice, salt, and flour mix coating fried in canola oil works like a charm.

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