HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
What's your latest food quest? Get great advice
TELL US

Cooking fish without the fish smell

c
calabasas_trafalgar Mar 11, 2008 10:17 AM

Ever since we moved to our new home, my wife has been afraid to cook fish(mostly trout or salmon)because it leaves the whole house smelling like fish. We run the exhaust fan the whole time but it doesn;t help.

Any suggestions on what will help? Should we try a griddle, or a George Foreman grill? I miss my fish, and there aren't many good seafood restaurants around, Thanks

  1. eight_inch_pestle Dec 26, 2009 05:02 PM

    Buy smaller, faster-cooking cuts. Cook in the oven, not on the stove. Open windows (unless you have a powerful exhaust fan actually connected to the outside world). If you have a kitchen window facing away from the rest of the house, put a fan in it, facing out, and turn it to high (we have one of those low-slung ones with the accordion sides that is perfect for this, as it forms a seal preventing inflowing air from pushing odors back through the rest of the house). Close all internal doors. Remove the skin. When done cooking, rinse out the cooking pan and at least fill it with soapy water while the fish rests.

    This is what works for me, having lived in a duplex with carpet and a shared HVAC system...

    Very gently cook super-thinly sliced (translucent) garlic in a bit of butter on the stove until the garlic has infused the butter and the kitchen smells delightful. It shouldn't brown. Stir in some minced parsley, place a couple decent-sized fillets in the pan and spoon some butter-garlic-parsley mixture over them. Immediately place into a 425-degree oven for 6-10 minutes (we like fish slightly underdone in the center). Larger fillets and steaks or denser fish take a little longer, obviously. Squeeze a little lemon and extra parsley over all and eat. (Wild salmon cooked this way with fresh bay leaf and white pepper is a favorite---but hold off on the lemon.) 425 seems to do a nice job of cooking the fish quickly without sending hot fishy fat splattering all over the oven. Follow these steps and those above and you may still find the house sometimes gently perfumed with the smell of buttery roasted fish, but it will never reek of the Friday night fish fry down at the corner bar.

    1. CindyJ Jan 21, 2009 05:17 AM

      Has anyone ever tried this broiler pan for smoke-free, odor-free broiling? http://waterbroiler.com/waterbroilerr... I know it doesn't seem so different from most broiler pans, but I know one person who swears by it. I've been tempted to get one, but I'm skeptical.

      1. mschow Apr 12, 2008 09:24 AM

        I live in a small house and the kitchen is down the small hall from my bedroom. I have a fan that exhausts to the outside which I always run when cooking. But the smell... if I cook salmon on the stove top the house smells for days afterwards. Same thing if I cook a roast chicken. I feel like my house always smells like food. I haven't heard about this vinegar and water on the stove thing. I will give that a try. I do burn candles, but they do not seem to get rid of the 'heavy' food smell.

        1. luckyfatima Apr 11, 2008 09:15 PM

          For the fishiness inside the fish, I soak in vinegar, then rinse off the vinegar. But for the fish smell in the house, I don't think there is much you can do if your place is not well ventilated.

          1. g
            GenieinTX Apr 11, 2008 01:53 PM

            I saw Alton Brown say that if you fry fish in Crisco, you don't get that fishy smell all in your house. I tried it, and it was true. I had fried some fish in butter the week before and my house smelled for days. The second time I battered it and fried it in Crisco and the smell was gone before the next morning. I was suprised.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GenieinTX
              JalamaMama Apr 12, 2008 11:15 AM

              My husband LOVES his cod dipped then cooked in Crisco (veg sticks are the kind we use)- I admit it is pretty darnned good! I was against it- and it is also delicious to cook venison in as well. To hear it helps in the smell arena boots this product up another notch!

            2. MMRuth Apr 11, 2008 09:29 AM

              Just wanted to add a tip to this thread - my whole apartment still smelled like the salmon I grilled last night and someone suggested simmering some cinnamon sticks in water on the stove top. This did the trick in terms of removing (masking?) the odor!

              1 Reply
              1. re: MMRuth
                Emme Dec 26, 2009 07:21 PM

                Simmering cinnamon is always what I do whenever something is stinky! It even works to put dried cinnamon and other spices like nutmeg and cloves in water, and to simmer that away. Just make sure there's enough water, so you don't end up with a burnt pot with caked on spices... that's just a different stink :-)

              2. j
                jackie de Mar 13, 2008 01:26 PM

                No matter how fresh your fish, it can smell when you cook it indoors. I soak it in milk for at least 1 hour and that does seem to help somewhat. Also, try buring a candle ( any kind and close to your stove) while cooking the fish. That does seem to help as well. Hope that helps.

                1. m
                  mmuch Mar 13, 2008 12:06 PM

                  I bake mine in parchment in the oven with herbs, spices, veggies and everything all together in the little parchment pocket. It always turns out fantastic and NO stink!

                  1. sweetie Mar 13, 2008 12:03 PM

                    I guess it would depend on if you like these kinds of flavors....
                    I bake salmon in the oven wrapped in parchment or foil, I put stuff like dill or ginger or lemon (or all 3) in with the fish. I find the the strong smell of dill overpowers any fishg smell...if there is any.

                    1. v
                      Vshu Mar 12, 2008 02:24 PM

                      I used to live in a tiny NYC apartment with no exhaust fan, so did not cook fish often. BUT, when I did, I made salt-crusted red snapper (or any other firm, but flaky fish). Depending on the size of the fish (whole, between 2- 3 pounds), you take 5 cups (or so) of kosher salt, one egg white and enough water to make wet sand. Line a baking sheet with thick foil. Season the cavity of the fish with whatever herbs you like and depending on your side dishes (I like lemon, ginger and scallions). Make a bed of salt and lay the fish down. Cover with remaining salt; head and tail do not need to be covered. Bake in a 400 degree oven, 20 minutes/pound. Take out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. With a large spoon, gently crack the crust and remove all the salt (the skin usually pills away with the salt). With a a spoon, remove the flesh.

                      I have served this dish to people who claim they do not like fish and they LOVE this dish. It's moist, perfectly seasoned (not salty at all!) and if great for those who are watching their fat intake. And best of all, no fish smell.

                      1. steinpilz Mar 11, 2008 02:45 PM

                        My stove is near a window and I find that closing the door and leaving the window open during and afterward (top and bottom so cold air comes in and hot goes out) pretty much solves the problem -- especially if I'm roasting or broiling in the oven, very little smell then (long simmered or braised stuff on the stove top is more aromatic).

                        1. JalamaMama Mar 11, 2008 12:47 PM

                          We cook alot of fish, frozen, fresh, you name it. We love deep fried lingcod the best, and here is what we do...We would eat fried lingcod every night if it was up to my husband!

                          Number one- close all possible doors. Keep the smell from entering other parts of house.

                          If you are using an exhaust- do not open a window for "cross current"- the exhaust will only work if the house is sealed up- forever I ran the exhaust with a window not 2 feet from it open- and I wondered why it never seemed to work.

                          I keep the counters lined with newspaper while working, and all goes out the door into big trash can as soon as possible- even before eatting.

                          Sometimes fish has an odor- and it isn't bad, it just has that...well you know the smell. I take a lid full of vinegar and very carefully pour it over fish and use my hand to run it all over fish- now lid from vinegar is tiny- so not too much- but this seems to kill any noticable aroma and also takes any film off fish.

                          My favorite fish is simply baked- we have a product called Braggs out here- Braggs Amino Acids- it is soy sauce without any sodium. About 1 tablespoon poured over a 4 oz salmon slice- YUM.

                          Good luck- I grew up in a house that cooked fish in the worst way possible- it was never good. I am making up for my childhood.

                          1. r
                            renov8r Mar 11, 2008 11:56 AM

                            Does the fan really "exhaust"? I think far too many models (especially those integrated into microwave hoods) are merely recirculating. Even when there is a duct to the outside a hood without sufficient capacity is not going to draw enough air to control cooking odors. Try this simple test. Put a regular or scented candle on the your (turned off) cooktop. Light the candle. Turn on the fan. Blow out the candle. Is all the visible smoke and odor sent outside? Try the same test but this time open a window in room on the opposite side of the house as the ktichen -- it may be that you need a supply of "make up air" to improve the performance of your hood. Or you may need a whole new hood.

                            I think an a contact grill (like the GF) is going to be among the worst offenders for unpleasant odors -- typically this would not be used under the hood at all. Similarly a griddle that is large/covers multiple burners is going to help "spread out" the potential for odor. I'd stick to grilling outdoors, poaching, and perhaps oven baked casseroles until the ventilation is worked out.

                            1. m
                              moymoy Mar 11, 2008 11:55 AM

                              I had the same issue in my apt. For salmon, I use the oven broiler now and love it. Same texture (if not better) as pan frying but minus the stink. Just place fish over a foil lined cookie sheet (or oven proof pan), seasoning, little drizzle of oil and in less than 10 mins a great peice of fish.

                              I wouldn't use the GF grill as it will cause the same smelly problem.

                              1. yamalam Mar 11, 2008 11:50 AM

                                If after cooking, you do have a fishy smell, put a pot of water and white vinegar on the stove and let simmer until the smell goes away. My mom does this and swears the vinegar steam absorbs the odors.

                                I learned on this board to just keep a dish of vinegar by the stove when frying, and I do that regularly because it's less work.

                                I think a griddle or George Foreman would be worse than baking or broiling, and the same as pan frying. I agree poaching would be perfect, or maybe en papillote (sp?).

                                1. Homero Mar 11, 2008 11:31 AM

                                  Cooking fish without the skin helps, The less oily the fish the less fishy the smell when you cook it. In other words, more delicate white fish will have less fishy smell than mackerel or trout. I think Lmoy is right about poaching and steaming keeping the fish smell down. Also, the fresher the fish, the less fishy the smell. Happy cooking!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Homero
                                    scoopG Mar 11, 2008 11:35 AM

                                    I agree with Homero. Fresh seafood smells like the sea and should not be "fishy smelling." I regularly steam whole fresh fish and have no problems.

                                  2. Uncle Bob Mar 11, 2008 11:30 AM

                                    Cook them outside maybe?...Grilled salmon is excellent. So is Tuna, So is Swordfish,
                                    Tilapia maybe....You get the idea..

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Uncle Bob
                                      firecooked Mar 11, 2008 07:23 PM

                                      This is really the best way to cook fish. One of my favorites is salmon that is really "baked" on the grill. http://blog.firecooked.com/2008/02/26...

                                    2. l
                                      lmoy Mar 11, 2008 10:40 AM

                                      I think poaching keeps the smell of the cooking fish pretty well contained.

                                      Also, you can sometimes remove some of the fishiness from a less-than-perfectly-fresh filet by soaking it in milk for a half hour prior to cooking it.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lmoy
                                        t
                                        tedtomal1 Dec 26, 2009 03:23 PM

                                        you need to use Odor Absorbing Splatter Screen. you'll be glad you did

                                      Show Hidden Posts