Muddy Flavors in Fish
Published May 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Why do catfish and tilapia sometimes taste muddy or swampy? Can I remove this unpleasant flavor?
In the test kitchen we've noticed a mysterious muddy flavor in some catfish and tilapia. Our research revealed that the flavor comes from a compound called geosmin, which is Greek for “earth smell.” Geosmin is abundant in the blue-green algae found in the bottom of the man-made ponds that catfish and tilapia are raised in. When the fish swim in the geosmin-rich water, they consume the compound as they ingest the algae.Some cookbooks claim that soaking the fish in tap water or milk will remove the unpleasant geosmin flavors, but a quick test proved this untrue. After more research, we learned that only acidic compounds could effectively break down geosmin. Armed with this knowledge, we soaked fillets in lemon water and in buttermilk before cooking them. After an hour-long soak, we battered and deep-fried half of the fillets and pan-seared the other half. The acidic baths did the trick, although tasters detected a slightly mushy texture in the fish soaked in lemon water. To enjoy clean-tasting catfish and tilapia, we recommend immersing the fish in buttermilk for an hour before cooking. To cook, rinse off the buttermilk, pat the fish dry, and proceed with the recipe.
Hey hey, gf! you lost or headed for work? hee hee Guess what DH bought me yesterday -- A wonderful catfish rod and reel...AND a trout rod and reel! It's as pink as anything you've ever seen. *grin* I won't have to worry about DD, DH, grandson OR son-in-law getting within 50 feet of THAT one! *VBG*
Footsie -- that's very true...I wouldn't soak them for over an hour but I do soak them when they are from the lake around Ft. Gibson.
Here's a great recipe for fried cat fish....
Country Fried Catfish
This will serve 4 (or one if it's my grandson)!
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
dash of hot sauce (Tabasco)
2-1/2 cups milk
1 cup yellow corn meal
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 farm raised catfish
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Beat eggs, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and milk in shallow dish. Mix cornmeal and flour in another shallow dish...Dip catfish fillets in milk - drege in corn meal mixture - set aside on wax paper (I use a paper bag).
Fill a large deep skillet half full of oil heat to 350º -- add fillets two at a time to hot oil and fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. When fish is done you can tell by taking a fork to it...it should flake. Drain on paper towel or brown bag! lol
Linda - It is true - you just do NOT eat catfish up there in the Great Lakes State. When we visit catfish farms, we feed them cat fish chow, too. Also - are you going to the White River or Norfolk for your trout fishing? DH and DS (and sometimes DD --- and once me until a TORNADO came through and we were without power for 2 days - which knocked out the pump for water too!) go there yearly, sometimes twice a year. My SIL just moved w/in 45 minutes of there so I am sure DH will find more reasons to go more often. It is beautiful up in that area and I hope you and your DH have a great time -- and you enjoy your new pink pole. When I was little I would write the first initial of my last name (which started with an E) too close to my first name - and it has been spelled Suziee ever since (for more years that I will disclose!!).
Footsie - I knew I wasn't imagining that "taste". Thanks for the info. Makes perfect sense to me.
AND...I love the cajun flavoring - the place Near Depo where I would eat their catfish was called Cajun Catfish and it was fantastic. I just recently went back to visit friends and the place has since burned down and now something else is there.
Jumps up and down....White river! We stay at Spider Creek and just love the place. grandson and I went Striped Bass fishing one year -- that's how we found the trout...at the bottom of the Dam before we left that day -- I grew up in Colorado and my parents took us twice a year to the mountains trout fishing...I had to give that same experience to my grandson. Now -- I HAVE to ask....do you have any really good places you go fishing? *grin*
I just asked DH where his favorite places are and he said the Upper White River between Bull Shoals Damn and the Cotter Bridger are his "best" spots. If they are generating water, you can only float and fish. Only anchors when the water is low. Every few years or so they will hire a guide (never used the same one twice) but he swears they do not take him where the BIG trout are and he's better off on his own. THEN someone will say something about a different guide, so he will try....and say the same thing! I asked, he isn't sure where Spider Creek is.
His favorite Bass fishing is Lake Dardanelle - Russellville, AR. It's a huge huge lake and is becoming very popular for Bass fishing. Saw BassMasters tournament on ESPN once and now he goes there once or twice a year too. He's also thinking about going during one of the tournaments this year. Wants to "see what a big one really looks like"!
I'll have you know that I have sacrificed for you, Miss Chicken. Now I've spent a good part of this morning listening about fishing and his need to go! ROFL!!!! Sheesh...
Me, I'm too impatient to fish, but I love to stay at the cabin and read or go explore the towns and shop! White River - Mtn. Home has the best little farmers market in their downtown square. Love the fresh breads and jellies. When we just recently went to visit SIL - it was still there and made DH stop.
LC, No disrespect taken.
I can just picture a hush falling over the restaurant. ROFL!
Cod, trout, perch, salmon all would have been good choices in these parts. Lol! Catfish???? That would have brought peels of laughter from the kitchen.
You should see the big grin on my face! Thanks for sharing your story with me.
Suziee, So it must be a flavor you grow up with and can only taste if you are a "Northerner". LOL!
I wonder if the restaurant owner can source out the fish for you so you know if it is a rock-bottom. I've heard some farm-raised still have the same dirt flavor. Maybe I won't take the chance of buying any. At least I know there are more people like me.
Footsie, thank you for the information. I did read one person on a
different site say she tried a buttermilk soak but it didn't work,
still tasted like dirt. I did read somewhere a long time ago that soaking fish in acid is like cooking it ( think gravlax), so you should only soak it for a short period of time. I wonder if 1 hour is too long.
I'll try Smokegrub's sherry method. Thanks Smokegrub.LC, I like the sound of your recipe with the little bit of hot sauce in it. The only way my kids will eat fish is fried, so they would be happy. I love the sound of your fancy new pink rod! How cool!
Have fun fishing!
My Mother-in-Law would always soak her catfish filets in salt water for an hour or so, then rinse off very well, batter them in a buttermilk batter, and fry them. She was known for her great tasting catfish, everyone wanted to know her secret for making the catfish taste so great, and now I've shared her secret with the TOH BB, lol. Her batter was part flour/part cornmeal, and she always put papricka in it. But, she swore the "soaking" in salted water for an hour made all the difference. I don't fry fish, but did eat hers a time or two, and they were great.
Update for my BB friends -- I've found a 'fool proof' way to get rid of that musty taste!
Mother's B-day we had a huge fish fry (I won't get into the two fires I started that night ;)) but the frozen fish had a icky taste....I soaked them in plain ole' mustard. Yes! And it worked...put it in a bowl in the fridge overnight...didn't rinse them -- battered and deep fried and they tasted as fresh as just caught!
Did the fish have a strong mustard flavor? Did you thin the mustard or just spread it on?
i'm glad you found a way to get rid of that flavor, it is the worst!
I also love catfish but here in oregon they tend to taste like mud from the rivers. cure....soak them overnight in milk.
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