You need to take action before the salmon even hits the skillet.
The muscle tissues in seafood are stocked with trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), an odorless organic compound that helps fish live in salt water, says Jung-lim Lee, an associate professor of food microbiology at Delaware State University. But once fish die and are exposed to oxygen, bacteria produce an enzyme that converts TMAO into trimethylamine (TMA), a process that produces the distinct stink.
The longer a fish is out of water, the more TMA is released.
So stop the stench by soaking or rubbing the fish in an acidic solution, such as vinegar or lemon juice, Lee says. This does two main things: It suppresses bacterial growth and causes the TMA to bind to water instead of stinking up the air.
Let the fish sit for a few minutes, rinse it with water, then cook.
Another option is to dunk the fish in dairy for a half hour before cooking. The caseins in milk attach to fish muscle, preventing TMA from evaporating. Both ways keep the fish fresh, not funky.
Image: Ashruddin Sani