Imagine you pick up a few fish fillets at the grocery store to make for dinner this week. A couple of days later, you take the pieces out of the fridge and get a whiff of super-smelly fish funk. The fish hasn't gone bad per se, but its aroma is quickly stinking up your kitchen and putting the kibosh on everyone's appetites. Dealing with this pungent situation requires quick and effective strategies to remove the stubborn scent and salvage your dinner plans.
Fortunately, there are some practical steps you can take to neutralize and eliminate this distinct smell, the first of which involves a common kitchen ingredient: vinegar. Simply create a diluted solution of vinegar and water and soak the fish fillets for five to 10 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel and season as desired. The unpleasant odor will be gone leaving you free to get on with your meal.
What Causes That Fishy Smell In The First Place?
If you're curious as to why fish can sometimes develop that stinky smell in the first place, look no further than basic chemistry. Fish cells are full of an organic compound called trimethylamine oxide, which accumulates dissolved chemicals known as solutes in order to inhibit osmosis. The bacteria present on fresh fish triggers the breakdown of trimethylamine oxide into trimethylamine, which is the molecule responsible for the stench.
"The distinct fishy aroma is an amine, which is an organic molecule, and it can evaporate, go up your nose, and make you smell fish," chemist Steve Maguire, MSc, says in a Reactions YouTube video. Introducing trimethylamine, which is basic, to an acid such as vinegar essentially causes the acid and base to react, thus neutralizing the fishy smell, Maguire explains.
That being said, there is no cure for fish that has truly gone bad. Ensure you are storing fresh fish in the refrigerator for no more than 48 hours before consuming it, per FDA guidance.
Other Ways To Combat Fish Funk
There are alternative approaches to tackle fish funk in addition to utilizing acids like lemon juice or vinegar to counteract the issue. For example, rinsing fish fillets under cold tap water can effectively remove the smelly trimethylamine and eliminate lingering surface bacteria. This method offers a quick and straightforward solution that will help get your dinner plans back on track.
Another remedy involves using milk to neutralize the fishy smell, courtesy of its casein proteins. These proteins form a bond with trimethylamine, effectively eliminating the odor. Simply dunk your fish fillets in a milk bath for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking, and you'll experience a noticeably less pungent result.
You can also avoid super-smelly fillets by buying fish that are as fresh as possible. How will you know? It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but buying frozen fish that was frozen shortly after being caught is usually your best bet.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.