When preparing seafood, here are some of the common questions we get asked at Fishfiles. Our goal is to provide answers to these!
How do I minimise the smell of seafood in my house and on my hands?
In the fridge: Use cling wrap to protect and contain the smell of fresh seafood when you put it in the refrigerator, which should be set close to 4°C. If possible, place it in a shallow sealed container full of ice and store in the refrigerator, but don’t allow the seafood to soak in water as the ice melts, this will cause the quality of the seafood to deteriorate.
In the house: You can soak fish in milk for 20 minutes before cooking. The protein in the milk binds with the compounds that cause the fishy odour, extracting them from the fish. Lemon juice can be squeezed over the fish before cooking. It will neutralize odors and leave the fish with a citrus flavour. Good ventilation will help. Before cooking, shut any inside doors to keep the smell from spreading through the house, while opening kitchen windows and doors to allow the smell to disperse. Use your ventilation fan if you have one. Cooking methods can also influence odour. Frying can create a stronger fishy smell than cooking fish in foil or paper in the oven. While cooking, leave a small bowl or cup full of white vinegar near the stove. It absorbs the odours.
On your hands: Washing your hands in vinegar, lemon juice, hand sanitizer or with toothpaste may help remove the fish smell.
Why does fish smell ‘fishy’?
Fish tissue contains an odourless chemical called trimethylamine oxide. Once fish is killed and exposed to air, this chemical breaks down into derivatives of ammonia and can smell bad. However, fresh, properly handled seafood should have a fresh smell, anything with a strong unpleasant smell may be old.
What can I do with the seafood waste in my home?
You can dispose of fish waste in your general waste garbage bin or use it in the garden, by digging it into the soil. Make sure the waste is dug deeply enough so wildlife and neighbourhood dogs and cats will not be able to dig it back up. Adding seafood waste to the soil can improve plant health, prawn shells for example, can help control nematodes, a type of microscopic roundworm that attacks the roots of plants like roses as well as tomatoes and fruit trees. More details here.