Why Do You Soak Fish In Milk?


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Fish can taste, well, fishy. If you are like many and just can’t seem to get over that fishy taste, then probably want to find a way to get rid of it. What if I told you that the answer to your dilemma is soaking it in milk? 

That’s right, milk. But why do so many people soak their fish in milk?

The protein found in milk can bind with the compounds that give the fish a fishy odor and remove it from the fish. This leaves behind a sweet, bright flesh that has a clean flavor. So, by soaking the fish in milk for about 20 minutes you will have a better tasting filet.

Why Do You Soak Fish In Milk?

Fish is eaten by so many all over the world. Some love it, others hate it, but in general we can all agree on one thing, there is such a thing as fish that tastes too fishy. 

Now, the truth is that unless you are eating fish right after it is caught or unless it is flash frozen right after it is caught, the fish is going to taste fishy. The longer fish is stored, the stronger its aroma and taste is going to get. 

Fresher fish tastes the best, but, even though the fish may smell or taste really fishy, this doesn’t mean that it has gone bad. Spoiled fish is going to have a distinct acrid fish smell rather than just smelling slightly fishy. 

If you aren’t sure, check out the flesh. It should be firm and chewy instead of mushy and dried out or turning gray.

So, you recently purchased some fish to cook for dinner. It isn’t bad, but has a strong fishy smell and you know that it is going to affect its taste. So, what can you do? I’m glad you asked. 

You are going to want to soak the fish in some milk. The milk removes the fishy odors and flavors making it taste even better. Just set the filets in a bowl of milk for about 20 minutes before you cook them. You can also try cooking the fish with lemon juice and serving it in a sauce or glaze so you mask the smell and taste

However, if you need to remove it before so you don’t have to taste that fishy taste, try soaking it in milk. Why soak it in milk, you ask? Because it is going to remove that fishy taste so that you will have a sweeter, brighter, and cleaner tasting fish to eat.

Now, let’s take a look at how this is possible. When you are soaking fish in milk, it doesn’t merely just mask the smell and taste or soak it up, it is actually revering the chemical reaction that causes the odor in the first place. Even soaking fish for about 10 to 15 minutes can result in a milder tasting filet, which means that soaking it for longer will result in a much better tasting fish. 

Soaking your fish can be done in regular milk as well as buttermilk. Buttermilk is more tangy and acidic which means that it is going to be better at removing those unpleasant flavors in the fish. It will neutralize the molecules that are making the fish taste fishy.

It can also hide a muddy taste that some fish can retain from the water they lived in. Buttermilk also makes for a great marinade and tenderizer although fish is usually pretty tender. But when you soak it in marinade you will receive a mild tangy flavored fish. 

This pleasant flavor will stay with the fish after it has been cooked. Even if you are breading and frying the fish, you will still enjoy that sweet and mild flavor given to it by soaking it in buttermilk.

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What Is The Best Thing To Soak Fish In?

If fish smells or states fishy and as long as there isn’t any appearance of spoilage the fish is still fine to eat. To remove the fishy taste, you will first need to soak it in a solution. 

This will help the fish to taste better and be more appetizing. But, what is the best thing to soak fish in?

The best things to soak fish in are a brine, acidic solutions and base solutions. So, along with milk, vinegar, lemon/lime juice, or just a simple saltwater solution work great for soaking fish in to make it taste better.

A brine can be used to soak the fish in. This is just water and salt. It will work but some better options are using an acidic or base solution. We already discussed milk, but let’s go over some other types of solutions that are the best to soak fish in:

Acidic Solution

This type of solution involves lemon/lime juice. Add one cup of ether lemon or lime juice to a half gallon of water. Then place the fish in the solution. The solution should just cover the top part of the fish. 

It is ideal to leave the fish in the acidic solution to soak overnight in the refrigerator. The acids in the juice will remove the fishy smell and taste as well as break down the cognitive tissues of the fish and reduce its cooking time while also helping to preserve the healthy color of the fish. 

If you plan on cooking the fish soon, then leaving it in the solution at room temperature for about an hour will also work well. Another thing you can use is vinegar. For vinegar, you will want to use one cup vinegar for every 2 gallons of water. This works in the same way as the juice does but doesn’t add any lemony flavor to the fish. 

Be sure to rinse the fish well before cooking it.

Base Solution

We already mentioned soaking the fish in milk, but you can also try soaking it in a milk and salt solution. Just let it sit overnight and then drain and rinse before cooking. Another thing you can do is coat the whole fish in a soy bean paste and place it in a shallow pan filled with just enough with cold water to cover the fish. Let this sit for an hour. 

The protein in the soybean paste will absorb the odor and fishy flavor of the fish. Rinse wherever you are ready to cook the fish. 

Another solution is peeled ginger, one half cup of chives, one cup of water, and a little bit of salt. Blend this in a food processor until it comes to a paste. Coat the fish with the mixture and let it stand at room temperature for one hour. 

Rinse the fish before cooking.

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Final Thoughts

Soaking the fish in milk is a great way to remove that fishy flavor and odor for better tasting fish. There are also other types of solutions you can use as well such as lemon/lime juice. 

Sometimes fish just needs a little help help not to taste so fishy and soaking it in milk will give it a mild and sweet flavor.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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