How to Cook Fish So It Doesn’t Taste Fishy

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Post Summary: We’re sharing exactly how to cook fish so it doesn’t taste fishy.

I grew up on an island in Georgian Bay, Canada, with an avid fisherman as a father. This meant our family would eat freshly caught fish several times a week, the types of fish would be either Coho Salmon, Lake Trout, or Bass. But even as a picky eater, I would crave my mom’s style of fish. My parents figured out the best way to filet and cook fish so it didn’t taste fishy. 

For many, the idea of cooking fish can be overwhelming because of the strong fishy flavor and smell. But, I’m here to tell you that with the proper techniques and a little know-how, you can create delectable seafood dishes that are free from any overpowering fishiness. 

Whether you’re a seasoned seafood lover or a beginner looking to expand your culinary horizons, this guide will teach you my family’s secrets to cooking fish so it doesn’t taste fishy.

Keep reading to find out our secrets on how to cook fish so it doesn’t taste fishy.

How to Cook Fish so it doesn’t Taste Fishy

Here’s how to cook fish properly, prepare it, and serve it so you never taste the fishy taste again. We are also sharing tips for getting rid of any lingering smells from cooking the fish.

The Importance of Freshness

The first step towards eliminating fishiness from your dishes is to start with the freshest fish available. Opt for fish caught on the same day whenever possible. Look for clear eyes, vibrant skin, and a lack of any off-putting odor. Fresh fish not only ensures a milder flavor but also preserves the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.

Choosing the Right Type of Fish

When it comes to avoiding a strong fishy taste, lean white fish like cod, haddock, and sea bass are your best options. They possess a milder flavor profile that’s less likely to overpower your taste buds. Oily fish such as salmon and black cod can also be delightful when cooked properly, as their high omega-3 content brings a rich, buttery taste without the fishy odor. But even still, Salmon is notorious for having a stronger fishy taste. But with the right preparation, which we will share more of next. I can promise you that salmon will be enjoyable, even for the most picky eaters. The least fishy fish is cod or tilapia, which is why these types of fish are so popular.

Proper Preparation Methods

This is a tip you’re not likely to see anywhere else, it’s a preparation tip that my parents have been doing for years. The key to fileting or preparing a piece of fish is making sure you cut out all the fat, using a thin and sharp knife. The fat will look white on top of the meat, and that’s what you want to remove. You will also want to remove large veins and arteries in the piece of filet.

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Marinating and Seasoning Fish

After, rinsing the filet in water, you will want to start marinating your fish in acidic ingredients like lemon or lime juice, balsamic vinegar, or even soy sauce. It’s a great way to infuse flavor while neutralizing any lingering fishiness. Fresh herbs, garlic, and spices are excellent choices to add depth to your seafood meals. Pat your fish fillets dry with a paper towel before marinating to ensure a crispy exterior.

Proper Cooking Methods

To lock in flavor and prevent a strong fishy taste, choose cooking methods that are quick and efficient. Grilling, baking, broiling, and pan-searing are all fantastic options that preserve the delicate flavors of your fish. If you’re aiming for a healthier alternative, consider using an air fryer, which provides a crispy texture with minimal oil.

Cottage Cooking

The Best Deep-Fried Salmon Recipe

This recipe is one of my personal favorites when it comes to cooking and eating salmon.

See Salmon Recipe

Tips for Cooking Fish Sticks and Patties

Fish sticks are a favorite among both kids and adults, and you can make them at home without the overpowering fishy taste. Coat fish fillets with a mixture of breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and your favorite seasonings. Baking at a high temperature will give you crispy fish sticks that are both delicious and mild in flavor.

Creative Sauces and Aromatics

Enhance the taste of your seafood dishes by pairing them with flavorful sauces and aromatics. A mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, fresh herbs, and a touch of garlic can be a fantastic accompaniment for white fish. For salmon fillets, try a combination of coconut milk, lime juice, and soy sauce to create a sweet yet tangy flavor profile.

The Role of Temperature

Cooking fish at lower temperatures can help preserve its delicate taste and prevent a strong fishy odor. This is particularly important for those who are new to seafood or sensitive to intense flavors. Gradually increasing your exposure to fish cooked at slightly higher temperatures can also help acclimate your taste buds to the flavors.


What makes a fish taste fishy?

When it comes to a mild or strong fishy flavor it stems from two factors: freshness and the presence of natural fish oils. When the fish is not fresh, the breakdown of its proteins and accumulation of bacteria can release compounds like trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which are responsible for the unpleasant fishy odor and taste. But, certain species of fish naturally contain more fish oils, making them more prone to fishy taste. Proper handling, storage, and preparation can mitigate these factors and help you enjoy fish without the off-putting fishiness. 

How do you get the fishy smell out of fish?

Anyone who’s cooked fish knows that a fishy smell isn’t always bad. But there are ways to eliminate the fishy smell from a filet, starting with making sure you have fresh fish or seafood. Once you know it’s not turned bad, the key is cutting out the fat off the meat, then you want to strip the rest of the fat along the ribs, arteries, and veins. 

Next, rinse it thoroughly under cold running water to remove surface bacteria and any residual odor. Marinating the fish in acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, or even buttermilk can neutralize the fishy odor. Cooking methods like grilling, baking, or poaching with aromatic herbs and spices can further mask the smell while enhancing the flavor. 

Why does my fish always taste fishy?

​The best way is to make sure your fish is fresh, cleaned, or prepared properly and cooked correctly. 

How do you make plain fish taste good?

Transforming plain fish into a delicious dish involves seasoning and cooking techniques. Start by seasoning the fish with salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs and spices. Experiment with different flavor profiles to suit your preferences, like Mediterranean, Asian, and Cajun. Cooking methods like pan searing, roasting, or broiling can enhance the fish’s texture and flavor. Also, adding a flavorful sauce such as citrus butter sauce, or a fresh tartar sauce, can elevate the taste of your fish.

Should fish taste fishy after cooking?

No, fish should not taste fishy after cooking it. Properly cooked fish should have a mild, pleasant flavor with no overpowering fishiness. If you’ve followed the tips mentioned below, such as choosing fresh fish, rinsing it well, and using complementary seasonings and cooking methods, your cooked fish should be enjoyable and free from any undesirable fishy taste or odor. Remember that the goal is to enhance the natural flavors of the fish while minimizing any off-putting tastes or smells.  

How to Get Rid of the Fishy Smell in Your Home

I mean this is a bigger topic, but it is possible to avoid any lingering fishy scent in your kitchen. You can do this by using cold water to rinse utensils and surfaces immediately after handling raw fish. Sealing uncooked fish in a plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and of course, sealing the fishy smell. Also, consider using fans and ventilation to keep the air fresh while cooking.

Cooking fish that doesn’t taste fishy is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding. By selecting fresh fish, marinating with acidic ingredients, using the right cooking methods, and experimenting with flavorful sauces and seasonings, you can create seafood dishes that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find your favorite way to prepare fish that’s both nutritious and delicious. With the insights shared in this guide, you’re well on your way to becoming a seafood culinary maestro. Bon appétit!

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