That “fishy” smell that’s invading your nostrils is caused by a basic organic compound called trimethylamine (TMA). Here are three ways to cancel its effects as long as it hasn’t fully spoiled:
- Wash it with cold water: If the fish has only recently started to smell, a quick rinse in cold water —not hot water— will remove most of the bacteria and TMA. Rinse, pat dry with a paper towel, and cook.
- Soak it in milk: Casein, a protein found in milk, will bind to the TMA and leave the fish smelling fresh as ever. Let the fish soak for 20 minutes or so, and you’re ready to cook.
- Use acid: TMA is basic, so an acid will react with it leaving behind acid salt and water—neither of which smell or taste bad. So cook your fish in an acidic liquid, like a vinegar-based mix, squirt it with lemon juice before cooking, or dunk it in an acidic sauce, like tartar sauce.