Albumin formation on pan-cooked salmon fillets. Image credit: Gavan Murphy.
What is that white stuff on my cooked salmon?
That white goo is called albumin, which is a protein that exists in all salmon. Cooking the fish causes muscle fibers in the fillet to contract, essentially squeezing the albumin out of the fillet to collect on the surface.
Can I or should I eat it?
Albumin is entirely harmless and, although it may look unsightly, is perfectly edible.
Is my salmon bad?
All salmon contains albumin. It is not an indicator of the health or quality of the fish, but it is a signal that you may be overcooking your salmon.
How do I avoid albumin?
Salmon is a delicate protein and albumin is a sign you may be overcooking your fish. Follow the heating instructions on your recipe and use a thermometer to verify your cooking temperatures. For some cooking methods, like grilling, albumin just comes with the territory, but you can reduce or eliminate the amount that forms with a few tips.
Culinary Director Grace Parisi recommends a foolproof “low-and-slow” method to avoid albumin and keep your salmon incredibly moist. For fatty king and coho salmon, Grace suggests roasting the portion until it reaches 125°F for medium rare and 145°F for cooked through.
Recipes like Grace's Slow-Roasted Salmon with Moroccan Carrots are gentle on the delicate protein in salmon.
You can also cure the salmon portions with salt and sugar for at least 10 minutes to firm up the proteins and slow the release of albumin during cooking. Preparing salmon raw is also guaranteed to keep that albumin locked inside your fish.
Eating Wild Foods
Wild salmon, like all wild foods, will have natural variability in color, size, and flavor. These creatures are the product of the magnificent rivers and seas of Alaska. Whether the albumin is on top of or inside your fillet, the fish is packed full of the flavors only found in wild Alaska salmon. Whether you want to try out a one-time box or subscribe to wild Alaska seafood all year, Sitka Salmon Shares sources from small-boat fishermen and trusted partners who care about the quality of every fish they catch.