I'm trying to figure out why a fish I cooked tasted pretty nasty.

I bought a whole farm raised striped bass from the Asian seafood market. It was US farm raised. The eyes were bright and not cloudy or desiccated. It didn't have much fishy-smell, so I assumed it was good.

My first mistake is that I didn't put it on ice when I brought it home. It just went straight into the fridge inside its package, bottom shelf. It smelled fine when I brought it out.

I cleaned the fish by scissoring around the anus up to the gills, drawing out the viscera and discarding, then I cut out the gills by snipping wherever I could until they came out. Head stayed on. I cut out the fins. I did not descale it. Another possible problem.

I rinsed it copiously, getting all the blood off. I laid spring onions, garlic, and lemon slices into the cavity as aromatics. I then built a salt crust around it and baked 450F/225C for 30 mins. The center temp was well over 130 (came up to like 180-190 actually) which was overcooked. That might have been my third mistake.

My question to you:

  1. Was it possibly a crappy fish? Can fish just taste bad even though it's fresh because it was fed a bad diet and/or improperly handled?

  2. Was the storage/cleaning process wrong?

  3. Was the cooking process wrong?

  • So it wasn't gutted before you bought it? Hmmm. How long did you have it before you gutted it?
    – Jolenealaska
    Mar 12, 2014 at 7:04
  • Was it the flesh that tasted bitter, the skin, or both?
    – GdD
    Mar 12, 2014 at 9:25
  • @Jolenealaska No, if I could go back in time, I would have asked to defin and get the gills and guts out. The fish was in the fridge for a couple days before I finally did the deed myself. It was a "hack job", so to speak, as the last fish I cleaned was 20 years ago with my grandfather.
    – AdamO
    Mar 12, 2014 at 16:09
  • @GdD I didn't taste the skin since it wasn't descaled. The flesh was particularly bitter. It was like a minerally flavor that reminded me of licking a nickel.
    – AdamO
    Mar 12, 2014 at 16:19
  • 2
    That's it then. Fish should never be stored for any length of time still with its "guts". So you've got it. Next time you won't even bring the guts home. As a matter of fact, if I saw fish "at the counter" still with its guts I would be concerned that it had already been too long.
    – Jolenealaska
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:02

1 Answer 1


If the fish is left with guts inside for a long time, the biliary fluids may seep from the gall bladder into the meat, causing a bitter taste, this can also happen if you break the gall bladder while cleaning the fish.

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