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? Commented Mar 1, 2011 at 21:21
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    Erm, but I never said that she doesn't like fish, only the strong fishy taste.
    – O.O
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 13:23
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    Aquatic bacteria are accustomed to reproducing in low temperatures and will grow happily even in very cold (i.e. unfrozen) seafood. The "seafood" smell most of us are accustomed to is the indication that the seafood is past its prime. The best solution is to use only the freshest seafood you can get. If that is not enough, try the answers below.
    – JS.
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 22:25

11 Answers 11


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.
  • 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
    Commented Feb 27, 2011 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
    Commented Feb 28, 2011 at 12:28
  • Bay leaf is another herb which masks the fishy smell as well..
    – notthetup
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 16:54
  • @Allison you mean you don't recommend bluefish?
    – Escoce
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 13:57
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    @notthetup use bay sparingly. You only need a leaf or two for an entire 6 servings.
    – Escoce
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 13:58

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
    Commented Feb 27, 2011 at 21:33
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    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.
    – immutabl
    Commented Feb 27, 2011 at 21:40

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!)


I had an "old salt" say that it is the "belly meat" that tastes fishy. When fileting, don't cut all the way down to the belly. Seems to be the secret.


Soak the fish covered in water with salt and sugar for 10-30 min. About 2 tbsp of salt and the same amount of sugar when using a cup of water.

After soaking, rinse the fish, then rub in the same amount of salt and sugar (like a dry rub). You can add some black pepper too, if you like.

Let the fish sit in a bowl until the oil starts coming out of the fish (30-60 min). Pour out the oil and let sit some more. Keep waiting and pouring out the oil until most of the oil is pulled from the fish.

The amount of fishyness you pull from the fish depends on how long you want to keep pouring off the oil. An hour or two is OK for salmon. It might take overnight in the fridge for fishier seafood.

After extracting the oil, rinse the fish very well. Cook or smoke after that.

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    Bill's suggestion worked like a charm! I couldn't believe how much oil came out and how much better the fish (escolar) tasted. The milk didn't work for me, the seasonings and acidic sauce didn't work for me (I had bought a lot of the fish thinking it was something else.) This is the only thing that did. THANK YOU BILL!
    – user62890
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 23:14

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

  • to soak the fish in milk for how long before rinsing.
    – user25970
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 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. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 19:08

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


Oily fish, such as bluefish or herring, can be balanced by including acidic ingredients like tomatoes, lemon, or vinegar in the cooking process and/or finishing sauce. Think of it as making a well-balanced vinegrette.


I understand the original question, at least as to how it applies to prawns. There is a word in Indonesia (where seafood always comes to the pan still kicking) -which refers exactly to an unpleasant 'seafloor' or 'bilge' smell -and taste present in some prawns. I've noticed it particularly in some Australian prawns though whether due to age or species I dont know. I haven't tried the suggested milk solution, but an overnight soak in salt does help. As for fish, assuming it's all very fresh of course, different kinds of fish can have vastly different smell and taste so it's important to get to know which is which. A GOOD fish supplier (usually NOT yr corner fish'n'chips shop) should be able to advise.


Cut out the red meat aka bloodline and discard. For fish like a Tuna that has red colored meat, cut away the darker red portions and discard. Soaking in milk also works.

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