Originally posted by
What does soaking them in salt water do?
Some find saltwater removes any strong taste, but I have the scientific explanation copied below:
"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."