I was cooking a cod with steam, but unexpectedly a lot of foam came out. First, I thought that the pot has not been cleaned but after re-cleaning the pot and refilling the water the situation repeated. My fish is surrounded by foam (like from the dish soap) instead of the pure steam. Any idea what is going wrong?

The fish was bought in the supermarket as "fresh" (not frozen), looked and smelled normally.

  • Was the fish already patted dried before steaming? And was it completely thawed if once frozen?
    – user110084
    May 12, 2017 at 14:21
  • 2
    It is not unusual. Condensate on the fish washes small amounts of protein into the water which causes the foaming. If you have ever had an egg cracked a little during boiling, you will see the water foaming too.
    – user110084
    May 12, 2017 at 15:14
  • @user110084 the fish was not frozen - it was sold as "fresh" - looked well and smelled normally. Nothing was added by my side.
    – kuszi
    May 13, 2017 at 7:20
  • @user110084 I have seen some foaming from broken egg while boiling but never to that extent. I have also never seen such a foam (or even similar) while steaming a fish (I admit, no experience with cods).
    – kuszi
    May 13, 2017 at 7:26
  • there is a chance that your fish might be a bit off. A bit hard to tell from here. Did it smell ok? Was it slightly slimey? Degradation products could contribute to your foaming.
    – user110084
    May 13, 2017 at 8:15

2 Answers 2


This sounded quite normal. Steam condensing on your fish is washing small amounts of protein into the steaming water below. It is quite harmless. As mentioned in my comment above, most of us have experienced that when boiling cold eggs too quickly causing the shell to crack and some egg white to leak into the water. That always make at least a bit of foam and often enough to overflow that pan.

There are a couple of things you can do to minimise that:

  • pat dry the fish before steaming
  • use a container under the fish to catch any juices so that none of it goes into the steaming water

More water in the pan and a gentler boil might help too


Have a bowl of ice cubes while you’re boiling any type of seafood because it will foam over and out of the pot As you see the foam start to come up drop an ice cube or two into the center of the foam and the foam will go down immediately this helps break the protein release only use one or two ice cubes at a time so that the boil continues and it doesn’t cool off the water continue to do this for the first 20 to 25 minutes that’s how long is gonna take to process the protein off now you can also get a fan on high setting and let it blow over the top of the pot that way it minimizes the foam from forming as well

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