Simple tricks to remove fish smells
Love fish but hate getting the strong smell on your hands and in the kitchen? Often, this can put people off cooking this incredibly tasty food.
But what if we told you there are really easy ways to get rid of fish smells from yourself and the room? We got in touch with a top seafood chef and fishmonger to find out their top tips to keep the smell of fish down.
How to remove fish smells from your hands:
- Use toothpaste. Award winning restaurateur and seafood specialist Mitch Tonks's go-to trick is to squeeze a small dab of toothpaste into your palms post cooking and rub over the front and back of the hands before rinsing with warm water.
- Cold water first. CJ Jackson, CEO of Billingsgate Seafood Training School, is a firm believer that water and soap is all you need. 'Cold water first is key,' she told us. 'This is to remove any fish remains or scales from your hands. If you wash with hot water first you run the risk of cooking the fish remains!' Once you've done the cold-water stage, wash your hands with hot, soapy water – and that'll do the trick.
- Palms of steel. Alternatively, rub both hands for a good five seconds on your stainless steel sink, then wash with warm water and soap to eradicate the fishy odour.
How to remove fish smells from chopping boards and utensils:
- Don't bother using lemon. CJ's tip of cold water first followed by hot and soapy water can be applied to your chopping board too. '‘I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to use lemon to clean your hands or utensils – it’s a waste of a lemon!’ she told us.
- Stock up on sterilising fluid. Something as simple as a daily sterilising solution (the stuff you sterilise a baby's bottle with) can remove the fish residue from your utensils. CJ recommends Milton.
How to cut down on fish smells when you cook:
- Vanish with vinegar. Mitch tells us that when frying up fish, he leaves a small bowl of white vinegar next to the hob: it absorbs the odour and leaves the room smelling clean and fresh. No need to worry about the vinegar scent either, as this will fade as it dries.
- Cook it al fresco. CJ tells us that whatever the weather, she loves to cook her fish on the BBQ. Not only does it give the fish a beautiful taste, it'll keep the smells outside!
- Keep the lid on those kippers. Kippers are probably the smelliest of fish when cooked, so keep the lid on the pan to retain the smell.
- Practise what you poach: Cooking fish in water means that any unpleasant waft is contained within its bath and keeps the flesh soft and tender.
- Bundle with baking paper: Wrapping fillets in baking parchment before cooking retains moisture in the fish while keeping any nasty smells at bay. When reading recipes, this method is known as 'en papillote.'
How to stop fish smells when throwing fish away:
- Freeze your fish. CJ reveals an incredibly nifty way of reducing the smell of out-of-date fish when you're chucking it out. Freeze it. ‘No one likes dead, raw fish in the food bin,’ she says. ‘What I do is freeze the fish, and then on the day of my bin collection I chuck it in there frozen to stop any pungent smells forming.’
- Use up all your fish up so there is no waste. Mitch is working with Asda on its 'Fin to Tail' campaign to encourage more of us to use all the fish, to save money and to cut back on waste. 'It’s crazy to think 47% of people are throwing away their leftover fish when it’s actually perfectly safe to eat,' he says. Ideas he has to use your whole fish are:
1. Reserve any raw fish left for a chunky chowder.
2. With any cooked fish leftovers, save and serve up in a sandwich or tacos the next day.
3. If using salmon, take the remain cooked salmon and create a pâté to serve with hot toast.
4. Never throw away the head – it's where the most flavour is. Instead use it to create a juicy curry sauce.