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Avoiding Smelly Fish

by Meghann on October 3, 2011

Do you know how to reheat left over seafood? It took me forever to figure out the proper way to do it.


I made the mistake at my old job of attempting to reheat left over fried fish in the microwave of the community kitchen. The results left me less than popular with my co-workers. In fact, I think I was jokingly banned from using the microwave for the rest of the week – they took smelly kitchens very seriously at my office!

Besides the awful smell, the fish was soggy and rubbery – no good. From then on I relied on the toaster oven to reheat my left over seafood (when no one was looking, of course). Not as smelly and a crispier fish made the toaster oven a clear winner.


I don’t have a toaster oven in my current kitchen (they take up too much counter space for my liking), but the broiler option on the oven works just fine. A couple of minutes on each side and my leftover shrimp and fish from last night were just as tasty as they were 15 hours prior.


They made the perfect salad topping with corn, sweet potato fries, and a cocktail sauce dressing.


The Whole Foods bottle of cocktail sauce was on sale for $3.95 last night. $3.95?! For a little bottle of cocktail sauce?! I could do better than that.


One already-owned-bottle of ketchup and one $1.47 bottle of horseradish did the trick just fine thankyouverymuch. 😉


My cubicle used to be right downwind from the office kitchen. Somedays it would be really good (frozen meals always smell so yummy when heated up in the microwave) and somedays it would be very bad (I wasn’t the only who tried the fish-in-the-microwave trick). Everyday you weren’t quite sure what to expect come noon time.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever had someone try to reheat in your office kitchen (or at home)? I think the exploding Indian Food takeout will always be a favorite of mine. The worst part was when no one would own up to it (after it exploded) and Indian Food covered the microwave for a week. No cool.

1 Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine October 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Broccoli is always the worst! And I also can’t stand the smell of onions cooking in stuff that isn’t mine. Haha I know that’s bad, but sometimes the combination of spices and onions in a dish I don’t know for sure what it is make my stomach turn!
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2 Carly (Swim, Run, Om) October 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I got in serious trouble not too long ago for burning a bag of popcorn. That’s the worst smell, IMO.
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3 Meghann October 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm

YES! I almost forgot about burnt popcorn! That would happen weekly at my office!

4 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups October 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Seafood is definitely pretty bad. I never bring in seafood for lunch for that reason!

5 Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) October 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Eww! I hate when co-workers use the microwave to heat up fish! Broccoli is pretty raunchy too, lol.

I don’t even own a microwave anymore, but when I did, I always took the extra time to reheat fried foods in the oven. Gotta keep the outside crispy! 🙂
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6 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I actually have no idea what it was, but at my internship this summer I walked into the kitchen and someone was reheating their lunch. It smelled HORRENDOUS. Like a dirty diaper. I got out of there quickly.
Katie @ Peace Love and Oats recently posted..The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

7 Cat @Breakfast to Bed October 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Over burnt popcorn smells like the inside of an 18 wheeler after a rotting carcass was discovered inside.
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8 mary October 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Our microwave on my unit at the hospital is right in the locker room by the bathroom. I think the worst is something that is entirely too oniony. It makes the whole room smell for a week!
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9 Ellie @ The Mommyist October 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I think the most disgusting thing someone can eat in the office is Dinty Moore Beef Stew. I used to work with someone whose fav lunch was beef stew. It smelled like warm dog food. Disgusting.
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10 Marisa E October 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

It’s a toss up between the fish and burnt popcorn……so foul!!!!

11 Army Amy* October 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm

We get a lot of burnt popcorn where I work. The smell is strong, and it lingers!*
Army Amy* recently posted..Rub-a-dub-dog

12 KatieG. @ Just Roll With It October 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Luckily there haven’t been any really bad smelling things in our kitchen microwave (fingersd crossed). I can’t believe no one owned up to the indian food, not cool!
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13 Kelsey October 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm

This didn’t happen to me but at my cousin-in-laws work someone used the toaster oven to roast an ENTIRE Red Snapper; yep skin, head, fins and all.

14 Meghann October 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm


15 Shanna, Like Banana October 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Oh no! You were *that* girl. For shame 😉

I made SmartDogs tofu dogs and apparently to most people they smell horrible — I hadn’t noticed, but I no longer make them at work
Shanna, Like Banana recently posted..Friday Recap: Father, Fainting, and Fondue

16 Erin @ GoBananasBlog October 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm

A coworker microwaved a blend of cauliflower and broccoli (I believed) and whatever he did to it was vile. People were calling the Executive Assistant asking if the the toilets were backing up. It had a similar smell to a porta potty on race day. People were getting headaches and getting sick because the smell was really bad. He hasn’t brought that back in again. 🙂

17 RafaelQ October 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Yea broccoli is really bad sometimes. I have been guilty of blasting salmon too in the microwave. If you put a ceramic cup or bowl a bit of water and a lemon cut in 4 pieces, cook it for 2 mins. The steam will kill the odor plus it will smell like fresh lemons, and cleans the microwave at the same time =)
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18 Caitlin C. October 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I think the classic is always in college when someone on your floor burned popcorn in the communal microwave. Stunk up the dorm for a day or two! And when the fire alarm went off at 2am because of it…well then you know you’re the hated one.
Caitlin C. recently posted..October Opportunities

19 Nicole October 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I think heating up one thing is fine – no problem. But when the Indian leftovers get heated up after the broccoli leftovers and then the chicken gets warmed up. Those smells make me want to vom. Ew!
Nicole recently posted..Oh boy

20 Deva @ Deva by Definition October 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I was an RA in college, and I signed out for the weekend (Friday and Saturday night) to go visit family. When I got back to my building Sunday night, my hallway smelled like burnt popcorn and plastic. There was a popcorn FIRE in the room next to mine while I was gone! Worst. Smell. Ever.
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21 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I used to have a roommate that refused to cover her food with any sort of lid when she stuck it in the microwave – can you say EXPLOOOOOSION!? Better yet, she never felt it necessary to wipe out the microwave either. Needless to say, she got voted off the island fairly quick! 😉
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22 Cait's Plate October 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I’m with you on that. The toaster oven is the only way to go when it comes to reheating fish!
Cait’s Plate recently posted..It’s In the Details

23 Sophie October 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I am terrible for heating things up in the microwave without covering them first so they explode everywhere – oops :/
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24 Mary @ Bites and Bliss October 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Well, one time my roommates left lasagna in the oven over Christmas break and when we came home, they turned it on to preheat something and the rotten cheese heating up stunk up our entire floor. THAT was disgusting.
Mary @ Bites and Bliss recently posted..Recovery blues

25 Corey @ Learning Patience October 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I will never forget when a roomate in college reheated salmon in the microwave…I thought our clothes would NEVER smell pretty again. YUCK.

xoxo from Trinidad
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26 Liz @ Southern Charm October 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I burned popcorn my first week of a clerkship back in law school …. everyone kept asking what that smell was. It lingered for hours! haha.
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27 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen October 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm

There was a notorious fish reheater in my previous office. I love fish, but that’s just not cool in a small space!
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28 Heather October 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Besides the usual suspects like fish and curry (both of which I love, but maintain don’t smell the lovliest), the worst is burnt popcorn.

It takes forever to go away!

29 Lisa (bakebikeblog) October 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm

ugh yes there was a guy at my last office who would always reheat fish and brocc in the microwave! They would make the place SMELL for days!
Lisa (bakebikeblog) recently posted..A Russian-inspired lunch

30 Grace October 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

My roommates cook bacon on the stove but it really stinks up the apartment…and mmicrowave wise at work someone heated up curry and it stunk!

31 Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) October 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I’m not sure about reheating, but I personally hate when people bring fishy meals into the office, mostly because I’m not a seafood-lover at all.
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32 Carissa October 3, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I love that I’m not the only one who balks at expensive, rarely used condiments! I’m a coupon, thrifty queen!

And I have a toaster oven on my counter..and a fruit bowl…and a coffee maker…and they give me clutter anxiety sometimes!
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33 Hillary October 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I always feel bad bringing tuna sandwiches into the office for this exact reason!
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34 Jamie J. October 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Ugh, this isn’t a reheating complaint, but one I feel is just as bad (if not worse). We have a woman in our office who eats cans of sardines in her office every week. I have eaten sardines before, so I won’t say I’m a hater, but in the office?! No way.

35 Molly October 4, 2011 at 5:12 am

I feel your pain!
One of my coworkers likes to eat sardines, and whenever he finishes a can I make him throw it away in the dumpster outside. Another coworker and I are both vegan, and the odor makes us want to vomit.

36 heather October 3, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I don’t eat fish so i would vomit if i had to smell warmed up fish at the office. Eewww. Glad you figured out a trick though haha!
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37 Stacey @starpulp October 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Burnt popcorn!!! It lingers!!
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38 emily October 3, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I’ve never worked at an office with a microwave, but I had a mishap in college once. I set a bag of popcorn smoking and the entire dorm had to be evacuated. Embarssing!
emily recently posted..Goats In The Grass

39 Lizx October 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

Definitely burnt popcorn! We’re not even allowed to microwave popcorn in our lounge at work!

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