Ichthyophobia is the fear of fish. This applies to eating fish or seeing dead fish. Galeophobia is the fear of sharks. I propose urban pescephobia the extreme fear of cooking fish in small apartments due to the potentially intense, traumatizing and lingering odor. Eating fish provides omega 3’s, an excellent source of lean protein and, in my opinion, assistance with the weight loss process. However, it’s hard to convince a cooking pescephobe to “get back in the water” after they’ve experienced days of eau du fish. There’s no coincidence that fishy has 2 meanings. One meaning is “suggestive of fish” and the other “suspicious”. In addition to cracking a kitchen window or using the exhaust on your stove here are some ideas to help conquer your fish cooking fears.
My two preferred ways to minimize odors when cooking fish are to steam fish or cook en papilliote (hows that for a fancy term). I have a calphalon steamer that sits fits into a pot and gets covered. For “en papilliote” I like to make parcels of fish and vegetables with a drizzle of white wine and cook in parchment paper. I asked a few cooking friends for their suggestions:
Jenna Helwig from Rosaberry and our recent Cooking Company post offered this advice:
“I love roasting fish in the oven instead of cooking it on the stovetop. That really cuts down on the fishy smell, and it’s so simple. Line a pan with parchment paper, drizzle the fish with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 400 until just cooked through. Spritz with lemon after it comes out of the oven.”
Julie Negrin, author of Easy Meals to Cook With Kids suggests “two cooking techniques that usually don’t cause as much of a “fishy” smell are steaming in bamboo steamers – Asian style and poaching.” Jennifer Clair of homecookingny points out that the type of fish can make a difference. “Lean fish cuts down the amount of fish oils in the air which make odors stick around longer. Salmon trout swordfish out, tilapia tuna and cod in.”
Some other ideas:
- Place a dish of white vinegar next to the stove. The vinegar will evaporate taking odor with it.
- In the “if you can’t beat it mask it” category, a few cinnamon sticks in water boiled in the stove seems to be a popular remedy.
- Salt crusting is a method of cooking fish (the salt is not consumed in case you’re a sodium-phobe too) that is rather odorless.
On one of the boards, a commenter enthusiastically wrote, “I learned from Alton Brown that frying fish in Crisco produces no odors.” This to me is replacing one problem with another and not Foodtrainers-approved but pretty funny.
Do you suffer from urban pescephobia? Does this exist in the suburbs too? Any tips or techniques you use to mitigate fishiness? Are you going to try to conquer your fear?
I think I'll have to try the white vinegar solution…that sounds most practical to me! I did just make fish in our kitchen about a week ago, and it smelled like fish for two days. The second Nick walked in the door he noticed it, and he can't EVER smell anything. So yes, not fun, vinegar will be by my side next time! Great tip.
I will admit I have urban pescephobia. I love cooking and I love fish, but I will not cook it at home. Right now I am living in a studio and the thought of smelling fish for days has kept me from even considering cooking fish. It is good to know, however, there are some tricks to cutting down on the smell. I'm not making any promises though that I'm going to tackle my fear anytime soon 🙂
These are some great ideas to not only keep the smell to a minimum, but to prepare fish so it is moist and delicious without drowning it in oil in a pan. I rarely keep fish leftovers, but when I do I am careful to always put it in a tightly closed tupperware so the smell doesn't invade the fridge.
I'll admit that this is, for me at least, not a big deal in a suburban home. When I lived in an apartment in NYC, I was hesitant to cook fish because our place was small and I didn't want to overwhelm the hallway either. In San Diego and Dallas, I had/have a big kitchen, lots of windows to open and no one sharing walls. If I cook fish, I throw open some windows and burn some incense…smell gone. I always viewed the smell of fish cooking as kind of the cost of doing business, kind of like how you get smelly pee after eating asparagus (too gross for this early in the AM?). Now I do more oven roasting and en papilliote than on stove top. Will try the vinegar trick next time!
I don't mind a mild fishy smelll but I appreciate this post bc I have tons of clients who stray from fish for this reason! I love your suggestions for masking the smell! Thanks!
Fabulous tips! I use the oven method and it works gloriously! <3
Jenn @ Peas & Crayons
Marie- the hallway stank, that's a good one. Melissa I never knew you were a pescephobe, we'll work on that.
I NEVER used to make fish because I just couldn't find a great recipe – until I discovered Jessica Seinfeld's recipe on her Do It Delicious website. Since than I make it all the time! I re-posted it on my blog: http://theotherbigo.ca/2011/01/09/best-fish-recipe/ I've also started buying fresh tilapia filets at our local farmers market, which taste so much better than frozen, and I find they don't have a fishy smell at all, and they're about $8 for two large filets – I would highly recommend it!
he he the smell of fish doesn't bother me I must be lucky
Thank you so much for the tips…specially that my husband cannot stand fish smell…
I am not at all disturbed by the fresh smell of seafood. My husband does. 🙁 Well, it's worse when I place the blue cheese on the table…LOL…
There are some great ideas here. I am, for good or ill, not bothered by the smell of fish. Would baking soda help filter some of the odor? Have a great day. Blessings…Mary
I don't know why but the smell of fish really doesn't bother me. I notice it but just ignore it.
I'm a huge "en papilliote" fan too and when I'm short on time, even use my microwave steamer to cook a piece of fish in 5 minutes.
This is one of the reasons I usually don't eat fish..the smell!
Thanks for the great tips!
I might have to give it another go and possibly try cooking it some time.
Thank you for your hard work and for sharing.
I have a problem with smells in general and yes, fish is definitely on the list. What actually grosses me out more than the smell of fresh fish is the smell of canned fish. Hence why I am a total tuna-phobe…if there is such a thing. 🙂
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