Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
How To Make Fish Less Fishy (Chemistry Life Hacks)

How To Make Fish Less Fishy (Chemistry Life Hacks)

So let’s say you’ve got some fresh salmon
in the back of the fridge. Or at least it was fresh a day or two ago
before you totally forgot about it. Now you pull that pricey filet out, and get
a nasty whiff of super-fishy stink. But don’t throw out that salmon! We’ve got some quick tricks to un-stink
your fish. First, here’s a recap of the chemistry behind
the stink. The cells of many fish have loads of an odorless
chemical called trimethylamine oxide, or TMAO, plus lots of free amino acids. These amino acids give fish its sweet, savory
flavor. But fish didn’t evolve extra-tasty cells
just to make your sushi delicious. Their cells load up with these dissolved chemicals,
called solutes, to prevent osmosis. Otherwise, fish cells shrivel up as water
moved from an area with few solutes—like a cell’s insides—into an area with lots
of solutes, like the salty ocean. Shriveled cells equals dead fish, well before
it ever gets big enough to eat. When your salmon was first caught, it smelled
fresh and clean. Then, the bacteria on it started breaking
down TMAO into TMA, that’s trimethylamine [trimethylamine – highlight the amine part
of the word “Trimethylamine”]. But don’t take it from me, a video voiceover—take
it from chemist Steve Maguire. “That distinct fishy aroma is an amine,
which is an organic molecule, and it can evaporate, go up your nose, and make you smell fish.” Amines [aye-means] are notoriously smelly
– if you’ve ever had a whiff of decaying meat, that’s an amine. So let’s get rid of that stink with chemistry. Here are three tricks to make fish less fishy: When a fish finally gets to your fridge, bacteria
on its surfaces have had a few days to churn out smelly TMA. We can’t tell you how to go back in time
to stop those bacteria, but we can tell you this. Rinse off that stinky coating of bacteria
and TMA by running cold tap water over your fish. Don’t use hot water, because it’ll cook
your fish a little and you won’t get the same results when you whip up your best recipe. Pat dry and cook—or try our next trick. Soak your fish in milk for 20 minutes. DRAIN, pat dry, and cook. Seriously. During the milk soak, a milk protein called
casein binds to TMA and extracts it from the fish. When you pour off the milk, you’re pouring
off that casein-bound TMA. If you’re out of milk, don’t despair! We have one more trick. Cook your smelly fish in acidic liquid, or
dunk your cooked fish in acidic sauce. But not because you want to punish it! Remember that stinky TMA molecule? Steve: “It is basic, and if you introduce
an acid to it, say lemon juice, or vinegar, or tartare sauce, the acid and base react.” Acids and bases reacting make new products,
something called an acid salt and water. The acid salt stays dissolved in the water,
so the stink is contained. And if you can’t smell it, you don’t taste
it either. Thanks chemistry! With these tricks, you can turn your stinky
fish into tasty delish, and stop throwing out still-good salmon. But chemistry can’t protect you from truly
rotten fish. The FDA recommends eating refrigerated fish
within 48 hours, so don’t forget your Friday fillets until Monday. If you’re into
knowing more about just how stinky amines can get, check out this video about putrescine
and cadaverine. Or if rotting meat isn’t your style check
out this video on how odor eliminators work.

48 comments on “How To Make Fish Less Fishy (Chemistry Life Hacks)

  1. imagine that fish is in ur fridge for 7 days past its exp. date
    and its like holidays the next few days and u cant buy new stuff and have nothing else
    would it be okay to eat the fish if u just cook it for like 2 hours or so?
    i mean is there still a risk of some sort of food poisoning?

  2. what about using ginger and spring onions while steaming the fish? This works for the Chinese and my mom when she used ginger juice to prepare a piece of fish fillet for baking.

  3. I have a bit of a myth.
    Whenever the weather is stormy and thundery (and air is ionized because of it) and my mum decides to bake a cake, it won't rise or rises and dies quickly, ending up with a flat poorly cooked mess instead of delicious soft cake.

    Why is that? Is that even a myth or a fact?

  4. is that why many seared fish recipes include lemon juice and fish and chips often features vinegar and tartar sauce?

  5. Fresh fish smells very delightful. I definitely do not want to make it less. It only stinks fishy if it's old and in this case I also do not want to make it less fishy but throw it away because of my health, you guys. What kind of stupid video is that!?!

  6. Sorry dude, it still tastes like a fish. Which for some reason tastes like spoiled meat to me. Or at least the way spoiled meat smells. No idea how anybody eats fish.

  7. Hey! :DD cooking tip! When you get to making a delicious meal, phone up a takeaway! YOU CANT COOK IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT

  8. I thought the guy with GeNiUS on his shirt said "that distinct fishy aroma is an anime" on the subtitles and I'm like wut

  9. Actually I thought adding lemon before or after cooking fish was standard procedure, although common wisdom say it's meant to "disinfect" the fish (I'm not sure about the lemon's usefulness in that sense).
    I wonder how fish tastes with milk…my bet's on "yuck".

  10. The acid trick works for pork and chicken. It's not so effective on beef. My family use calamancy lime on all the meat we prepare

  11. i like how you put the little disclaimer about rotten fish at the end

    you know people are gonna try your "tricks" on rotten fish, right?

    just throw it away, people

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *