I love cooking fish but no matter how I do it, it always makes the house smell unless it’s very fresh. Image source: Flickr CC user jules
Everyone knows that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so a few years back I decided to invite the guy I was seeing to my apartment for a homecooked meal. I wanted to wow him with my cooking skills, so I decided to make black cod.
The evening was going really well, until about part way through the cooking process, when a strong, fishy smell filled my apartment. And when we set out later to go to a show, I realized I totally reeked. My hair, my clothes, and my skin all smelled of fish. By the time we got back to my place for a nightcap, the smell overtook us the instant we opened the door. My date quickly changed his mind about coming in for a drink, and I was mortified.
He never came back to my place after that, and soon after, things fizzled. I’ll never know if that dinner had something to do with it, but after I finally got rid of the lingering fishy smell in my apartment, I went on a quest to find out how to prevent it from happening in the first place. And after trying almost every tip and trick that good ol’ Google had to offer, I finally realized what you have to do--buy the freshest fish possible.
Why Fish Is Smelly
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you cook fish your home is smelly for days, and other times it hardly leaves any smell at all? This largely has to do with how fresh the fish is. Once fish is killed, a chemical compound in the flesh begins to break down, producing a fishy scent. The longer the fish is dead before it is consumed, the more this chemical has the chance to develop.
Fish that you buy in grocery stores (like the cod that I bought for my date) is often about six days old by the time you buy it, meaning that it is pretty much guaranteed to stink up your home. And when you cook it, there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent the smell. Poaching your fish and baking it in parchment can both help contain the smell somewhat, but the bottom line is that if you don’t start off with the freshest fish, you are constantly going to be battling lingering smells.
Fresh Fish, Fresh Home
When I started ordering my fish online, stubborn fish smells were no longer an issue. The first fish I ordered was pacific cod (for direct comparison), and noticed the difference as soon as I took it out of the packaging. There was no powerful, stinky whiff like there had been that infamous night I cooked it for my date—it smelled like the open ocean.
Some people say that certain types of fish are by nature smellier than others, but I haven’t found this to be true when the fish is super fresh. Since trying the pacific cod, I’ve ordered and cooked a lot of fish, like salmon, petrale sole, and corvina sea bass, and still haven’t had a problem with smells. That’s because when you order fish online from the right retailer, it’s three days fresher than what you get in the grocery store. Fish at the at grocery store also gets handled more, and taken in and out of the display case, causing temperature fluctuation, and resulting in the fish losing its freshness even more quickly.
DIY Air Freshener
Even if you order the freshest fish online, sometimes life happens and you don’t get around to cooking it as soon as you plan. You should eat your fish as soon as possible after buying it, but if it has sat for a couple days, you get get a little bit of odor. When that’s the case I like to make this quick and simple air freshener out of ingredients I have in my pantry. I usually have it on the back burner, simmering away after I finish cooking.
Citrus and Cinnamon Air Freshener
Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, adding more water if needed.
Fresh Is Best
I find myself cooking fish more often now that I don’t have to worry about the scent. But the lack of smell isn’t the only benefit. The super fresh fish that I order also tastes so much better, and even has a better texture. Freshness really is the most important thing when it comes to avoiding fish smells in your home. Ordering the freshest fish from DailyFreshFish.com means that you can cook and enjoy fresh, sustainable fish as often as you like while keeping your house (and yourself) scent-free.