Don’t put these 2 spices in your fish store, but add these 3 things to make the fish firm, not fishy

Choosing the right seasoning for braising fish will prevent the fish from getting fishy, give it a pleasant aroma, and add a rich flavor.


Stewed fish is a favorite dish for many people, especially in winter. When stewing fish at home, many people may encounter problems such as the fish not being fragrant and not having the desired flavor, or it is easily fishy. The reason for this may be that you are not processing it properly or choosing the wrong spices.

2 types of spices not to use for stewing fish:

– Star anise

Star anise is a spice commonly used in stews and braised dishes. It creates a unique flavor for the dish. However, star anise is not suitable for stewed fish as it can create an overpowering flavor that takes away the natural freshness of the fish.

– Vinegar

Vinegar is also added to dishes to enhance the flavor, remove fishy odors, and preserve the color of food. However, for stewed fish, you should not use vinegar as it can make the fish taste unpleasant. Vinegar should only be used in the pre-processing stage to remove fishy odors.

3 types of spices to add when stewing fish:

– Fish marinade

Before stewing the fish, you should marinate it with salt for about 10 minutes. Salt will enhance the flavor and firm up the meat.

Depending on the region, family preferences, you can choose different types of spices to marinate the fish. Typically, in the North, people often marinate fish with ginger, galangal, dried shallots, and chili. In contrast, in the Central region, people often marinate fish with pickled onions. In the South, fish is often marinated with onions, garlic, and crushed chili.

– Fish stewing liquid

An essential spice in stewed fish is the stewing liquid. It helps to give the dish a beautiful color.

You can buy ready-made stewing liquids or make them at home. The stewing liquid can be made from sugar or coconut water. The simplest way is still to make it from sugar. Put sugar in the pan and cook until the sugar turns golden, then add a little water. Do not cook for too long as it will burn and become bitter. If using coconut water, you will need to cook it for a longer time. Put the coconut water in a pot, bring it to a boil, simmer, and wait until the coconut water turns sticky, then it’s ready to use.

Once you have the stewing liquid, prepare a portion of fish stew sauce. This sauce will consist of fish sauce, salt, sugar, and stewing liquid (adjust according to your family’s taste). Marinate the fish with this sauce for at least 1 hour to allow the fish to absorb the flavors. If you have time, you can cover the fish bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for the fish to fully absorb the flavors.

– Other ingredients to stew with the fish

To prevent the fish from drying out, you can stew the fish with pork belly, pork fat, or pork skin. The pork fat will make the fish more tender, fragrant, and flavorful.

In addition, fish can also be stewed with sugarcane, betel nut, bamboo shoots, tea leaves… These ingredients will enhance the flavor of the fish without making it fishy.

Notes on fish preparation:

The fish should be cleaned, scaled, gutted, and rinsed thoroughly. Pay attention not to break the fish bladder, so as to avoid bitterness. Also, peel off the black membrane inside the fish’s belly as this is also the part that makes the fish smell fishy.

Rinse the fish with rice water, then rinse several times with clean water. You can also rub salt all over the surface of the fish to remove mucus and fishy odor, then rinse again with clean water. Let the fish drain or pat dry before marinating with spices for cooking.

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Frequently asked questions

Turmeric and chili powder can alter the taste and texture of the fish, making it softer and less firm. Additionally, these spices can overpower the delicate flavor of the fish and affect the color, making it less appealing visually.

1. Lemon or lime juice: The acid in citrus juice helps to break down the fish’s flesh, making it firmer. It also adds a fresh, tangy flavor.
2. Salt: Salt draws out moisture, which can help to firm up the fish’s texture. It also enhances flavor and preserves the fish.
3. Sugar: A small amount of sugar can be used to balance out the flavors and enhance the natural sweetness of the fish, while also promoting a firmer texture.

Sugar has antibacterial properties and can help to slow down the growth of bacteria, which is often the cause of the fishy smell. It also helps to balance out the flavors and enhance the overall taste.

Yes, these ingredients not only improve the texture and taste of the fish but also have preservative properties. Salt and sugar are natural preservatives that can help extend the shelf life of the fish, while citrus juice adds a layer of protection against bacteria.

Absolutely! These spices can be used in moderation and combined with other ingredients to balance out their strong flavors. They are commonly used in certain fish recipes and can add a unique twist, especially when paired with other spices and herbs.