One of my earliest memories of Alaska is the endless summer BBQ s all featuring fresh fish. Even the bars here will serve complimentary appetizers on a Friday night or weekend. More often than not, if a bar has a deck and a BBQ someone will come in with a whole salmon and cook it up for anyone and everyone in the pub. Tasted so incredibly good, especially when that one drink has turned into several and you just need to eat, right now. What decadence…salmon fresh off the grill.

With every successful fishing trip there is the reward of fresh salmon or halibut cooked over coals. Then the time spent cleaning and vac packing the rest of the catch. With every fillet going in the bag, the satisfying hum and suction of the packer, is the thought of reliving eating fish with friends on long dark winter nights.

And all too soon summer is done and long winter nights sneak up and suddenly it is dark at 3:30 pm. Thawing out a bag of rosy salmon is to revisit sparkling summer days and memories of friends, boats, fishing and stories.

My first winter I thought the locals were pulling my leg. “Always thaw fish in milk”. Seemed this was the answer to pretty gross to me but figuring they knew better I just followed along. And then came hosting people for their fishing trips, and like a true local I would always say: “Now be sure to thaw that in milk”. Again the long looks and who could blame them, especially when my only response for this method was giving them a look of incredulity and saying: “Because that’s what we do”.

That line worked for 20 years but this summer I was called out and I had to dig a little deeper into why this works. And it is scientifically proven. The common chemical trimethlylamine oxide is found in fish. It is odorless until the fish is killed and then the oxide is broken down to leave trimethylamine alone which is responsible for the fishy smell.

Interestingly the casein in milk will bond with the trimethylamine and will reduce the odor.

And don’t just take it from me. Those who know at America’s Test Kitchen have made a video for us.