Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Feb 8, 2004 08:18 AM

Rinse ALL fish?

  • s

I never rinsed tuna or salmon, but all of a sudden today I had to wonder if that's careless of me. Are you supposed to rinse all fish? I bought a nice piece of wild salmon for dinner and I'm beginning to fret over it.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I follow James Beard: dip plain paper towels in a bowl of salted water, squeeze out some surplus and pat fish down.

    1. I just rinse them in cold water and pat dry to get rid of any gunk/scales they may have accumulated during the gutting/filleting process. But that's personal preference. I don't think it matters too much.

      1. Why exactly does fish need to be washed at all? If there's something wrong with it, how does washing it help? Similarly, why not wash meats beforehand as well? I know that chicken is routinely washed, but again, why?

        3 Replies
        1. re: CKarious

          I'll rinse almost all meat/fish/poultry before use. (Cold water, pat dry with paper towels.)
          Just to rinse off any loose crud/shmutz that might've attached itself while on display or prior to packaging. I do so because I don't trust retailers to be 100% perfect at all times, and it only takes a minute.

          1. re: dude

            Not to mention the plastic and strange moisture absorbing stuff if you are buying it at a supermarket. That stuff concerns me more than guts or dirt.

          2. re: CKarious

            Chicken should be rinsed for hygenic reasons. When the chicken is gutted, it's a fairly explosive event, and chicken guts (and most importantly, gut contents like salmonella and poo) splatter on the chicken carcasses and on the employees who handle said chicken carcasses. There is a fairly good chance that the exterior of the chicken is contaminated with chicken ick. Rinse the sucker and pat it dry with paper towels.

            As far as rinsing fish, I love and trust my fishmonger but can't vouch for the handling of the fish before it got to my fish market. I give it a quick rinse and pat it dry as well just to get off any sort of distasteful surface contamination. I've not heard of any sort of public health hazard from un-rinsed fish, but hey, why not err on the side of caution.

          3. Food borne bacteria reside on the surface. Washing anything won't 'wash off' all the bacteria (assuming there are any to begin with), but it can reduce the numbers. Illness is a numbers game, one lysteria/e coli/salmonella bacteria isn't going to make you sick it's a question of how many you ingest.

            Sounds like you have fresh fish, but if you defrost frozen fish and let it sit in its juices you intensify any fishy flavor. Rinsing will reduce this again.

            And if you catch and kill your own, I rinse it after cleaning just to remove any scales, guts or blood.