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The Best Ways to Cook a Fish Without the Smell

author image Alexander Knoll
Alexander Knoll has been a freelance writer since 2008. His articles have appeared on, and the SR Education group of Web sites. In 2004, he received the Freeman-Asia Fellowship to study in Japan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Knox College.
The Best Ways to Cook a Fish Without the Smell
Fish is especially delicious when baked without unpleasant odors. Photo Credit: zeleno/iStock/Getty Images

Consumers should eat at least two servings of seafood every week in order to decrease their risk of heart attack and obesity, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many home chefs are dissuaded from cooking fish because of the oily, briny smell that fills their kitchens afterward. Fortunately, many ways of cooking fish leave out the odor without sacrificing any of the flavor or nutritional value.

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Baking fish is a good alternative to pan-frying it, which tends to release odors. Put a tablespoon of olive oil into a glass baking dish and lay the fish filet on top of it. If you want your fish well-done, bake it at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, according to chef and culinary instructor Helen Rennie. However, because fish continues to cook for several minutes after being removed from the oven, she recommends taking two minutes off this time for tender, perfectly cooked fish.

Fish in a Bag

Roasting fish in a bag seals in the flavors and minimizes its smell escaping into the air during cooking. It also has the added benefit of keeping the fishy smell off your cooking pans because you can just throw the bag away when the fish is done. Add white wine, olive oil and lemon juice to the fish before sealing up the roasting bag, and bake it in your oven at 375 F for 30 minutes.


Another way to seal in the fish's aromas, as well as prevent stray flakes of fish from falling off, is to wrap it in tinfoil. This method works equally well in your oven or outdoors on the grill. Simply shake some salt and pepper on your fish, squeeze a piece of lemon on it, and put 1 tbsp. of butter on top. Ten minutes is an average cooking time in the oven, but you can always test the doneness of your fish by pressing it with a fork. If it flakes easily into pieces, it's done.

Cook Fresh Fish

The longer fish is allowed to sit after being caught, killed and filleted, the stronger its odor will be. If it smells fishy at the grocery store, don't buy it. When you buy fish at the store, cook and eat it within 24 hours, or several days at the most. Fish deteriorates more quickly than most meats. If you like the seared, crispy crust that comes with pan-frying, ensure that your fish is fresh to minimize any unpleasant smell.

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