What Is That White Stuff On Salmon?

You know those oozy white globs we're talking about.

cooked salmon with white albumin visible on side

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It’s date night. You selected two gorgeous, meaty salmon fillets to bathe in miso for dinner. The table is set. The wine is decanting. But as you pull the salmon out of the oven, you notice gooey white stuff seeping out of the fish. What is this mood-killing substance emerging from your pinky salmon fillets?

Short answer: albumin. It’s a liquid protein hidden inside the fish when it's raw. It coagulates and moves to the surface as the meat cooks.

Albumin is a natural part of salmon. No matter how you cook it (we have some surefire tips here)—whether you employ low temperatures, pan-sear, grill, or slow cook—the white ooze will emerge from the muscle fibers on the surface, creating that not-Instagram-worthy look.

Is It Safe To Eat?

It’s perfectly safe to eat the albumin on salmon, but we admit it's kind of unappetizing to look at.

According to Donald Kramer, professor of seafood science at the University of Alaska, there is no way of fully avoiding albumin once your salmon reaches temperatures between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, though you can reduce the amount that collects on the surface of the fish. (See tips below.)

And no, it doesn’t matter whether you bought wild-caught or farm-raised; all salmon have albumin.

How To Prevent the White Stuff

You can reduce the amount of white goo by not overcooking the fish—the higher the temperature the salmon gets, the more the flesh contracts, and albumin is pushed to the surface. Learn how to recognize the signs that your salmon is done

America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) performed a number of experiments to find the low albumin sweet spot when cooking salmon. The secret they found was a quick 10-minute brine prior to cooking.

According to ATK, giving the salmon a dip in a salty bath (1 tablespoon of salt to one cup of water) significantly reduced the appearance of albumin: "The salt partially dissolves the muscle fibers near the surface of the flesh, so that when cooked they congeal without contracting and squeezing out albumin."

This is not a cure-all for the icky white stuff, but now you and the 880 people a month who Google "white stuff on salmon" have a weapon in your arsenal when waging the albumin war.

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