The white stuff on salmon is called albumin. Albumin is a protein that exists in the fish in liquid form when it’s raw that coagulates and becomes semi-solid when you subject the salmon to heat when cooking. As the meat cooks, the coagulated albumin gets squeezed out and becomes a white coating.
The more aggressively you cook your salmon the more albumin will appear on its surface.
Think of what happens when you wring out a wet towel. The water inside the fibers of the cloth is pushed out as you squeeze the fibers closer together. The same principle applies to salmon. As salmon cooks, the flesh contracts, pushing out albumin to the fillet’s surface. The higher the heat, the more quickly the flesh contracts, and the more albumin becomes visible.
To have as little albumin as possible visible on your finished dish, follow these guidelines:
- Cook your salmon at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time. It’s gentler on the fillet, resulting in a super-tender piece of fish with less nasty white stuff.
- If you are searing salmon (and fish in general), always do so with the skin side down. The skin acts as a protective barrier between the fish and the hot metal pan. **TIP: Even if you plan on taking the skin off, cook your fish skin-side down for 90% of the way, turn off the heat, and then flip the fish so the skinless side cooks on the pan’s residual heat.
- Don’t overcook your salmon. You want it medium to medium-rare in the center, still a bit translucent. Overcooking salmon is the easiest way to get albumin everywhere. **TIP: When you can push on the top of your salmon with a fork, and the the layers of flesh separate easily and seem moist, your fish is finished cooking.
Thanks to my friends at Epicurious for the cooking tips! #ThisGirlLovesToEat