How long to soak fish in milk?

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to soak your fish for at least 30 minutes. For smaller fish, like a delicate tilapia or a flaky cod, it’s best not to soak them for more than 2 hours. For larger fish like tuna or salmon fillets, it is safe to soak for up to 8 hours without impacting taste and texture. 

For best results, you will want to use cold milk. Keep the fish refrigerated during the soaking process. Soaking or marinating fish in milk helps to reduce any strong fishy odor. Milk soaking also makes the fillets more tender and adds a creamy to the finished dish.

Before cooking, it is important to rinse the fish in cold water to remove any of the milk’s sugar and fat. Once the fish has been rinsed, pat it dry with paper towels before cooking.

Why do cooks soak fish in milk?

Soaking fish in milk might sound a bit unusual, but it’s a tried-and-true method that many home cooks and professional chefs swear by.

Neutralizes Odors

Fish can sometimes have a strong, fishy smell.  Soaking fish fillets in milk helps to neutralize those odors, and improve the flavor.

Tenderizes the Meat

Milk works by breaking down proteins in the fish. This process tenderizes the meat, making it more tender and flaky when cooked.

Enhances Flavor

Whole milk is typically recommended for soaking fish, as it has a higher fat content that contributes to a creamier flavor and texture. However, if you’re looking for a lighter option or have dietary restrictions, you can also experiment with low-fat or non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk.

Buttermilk Soaking Fish in buttermilk is much the same as using milk, only more so. It’s a bit tangier and more acidic, and it’s even better at quelling unwanted flavors in your fish.

How to get rid of the fishy smelly?

Besides using milk, you can also marinate fish with orange juice vinegar, and spices. This allows the breaking down of enzymes responsible for the fishy odor. Fish that has an extremely strong flavor can be eliminated by the use of these products. 

Prepare your fish using spices like garlic, lemon, or basil. This is not only a tasty ingredient that helps in flavoring but also helps in the reduction of fishy taste and strong odors.

Is it good to soak fish in milk?

Yes, milk contains lactating acids that break down tough proteins like those in fish, and make them more tender. This is especially true when using thicker fillets. 

Does soaking salmon in milk really work? 

Yes. Fresh salmon has a distinct, rich fish taste that some people might find overpowering. Soaking the fillets in milk helps to mellow out these strong flavors, resulting in a more balanced and enjoyable eating experience.

How long can you marinate fish in milk?

A brief 30-minute soak is a good starting point for most fish. This allows the milk to begin working its magic by neutralizing odors and tenderizing the meat. For more delicate fish like tilapia or cod, limit the soaking time to no more than 2 hours. Oversoaking can result in a mushy texture that’s less than appetizing. For larger fish or thick fillets, consider soaking fish in milk for up to 8 hours. For best results, change out the milk every 2 hours.

Soaking Fish in Milk Overnight

Yes, you can soak fish in milk overnight, but it is generally best to limit the soak to no more than 8 hours. 

Can you soak fish in milk for too long?

Yes, it’s possible to soak fish in milk for too long. Oversoaking fish in milk can lead to undesirable results, such as an overly mushy texture or a fish that falls apart when cooked. 

Soaking fish in milk and lemon juice

The addition of milk works to neutralize fishy odors, while the acidity of lemon juice combats strong smells. The combination of both ingredients ensures that any undesirable aromas are greatly reduced.

Do you need to rinse fish after soaking in milk?

Yes, it’s a good idea to rinse fish after soaking it in milk. This will remove any excess milk and ensure that it doesn’t have an overly milky flavor when cooked.

Simply run it under cold water, gently rubbing the surface to remove any milk residue. After rinsing, pat the fish dry with a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. This will provide a better surface for seasoning and promote even cooking when you’re ready to prepare your fish dish.

Soaking Fish in Milk Or Buttermilk

Soakers fish in milk and buttermilk are commonly used by fishermen and cooking who wish to add extra flavors. Milk aids the tenderization of fish and adds a subtle sweetness that enhances any dish. Buttermilk has a high lactic acid content that breaks apart the protein molecules and makes the fish a nice texture.

What do you soak salmon in before cooking?

The salmon is best boiled for cooking and soaked in salt water for 15-20 minutes. This helps in removing the dirty odor the fish has been exposed to during its time in the sea. It can be up to 2 tablespoons/quart of water if it has a lot more salt. Once the salmon is rinsed off with salt and rinsed off with water using cold faucets and wiped down with a paper towel. When the fish has cooled, it’s time to cook the food.

What does cooking fish in milk do?

Cooking fish with milk is an easy way to add a creamy texture to the fish. This happens in a method by poaching fish in milk, generating mild tastes. Fish releases oils in the cooking method which gives the dish an excellent and delicious aroma. The milk also prevents water from dripping as it cooks. Slow, gentle cooking methods with milk are also useful to keep moisture and make fish more succulent. In addition, slow-cooked meat helps in breaking apart connective tissues, resulting in tender and delicious fish.


Soaking fish in milk is a tried-and-true technique that can elevate your fish dishes. It works by neutralizing odors, tenderizing the meat, enhancing flavors, and improving the overall texture. Combining milk with lemon juice can provide additional benefits, offering a fresh, tangy note and further tenderizing the fish. Just remember to be mindful of soaking times, as over-soaking can lead to mushy fish.

After soaking, be sure to rinse the fish thoroughly and pat it dry to remove any excess milk before seasoning and cooking. By incorporating these techniques into your cooking routine, you can create delicious, tender, and flavorful fish dishes that are sure to impress your family and friends.

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