Have you ever pulled a delicious baked salmon out of the oven or off of your grill and noticed a strange filmy white mixture coming out of the fish? What is it, and does it mean that something’s wrong? Or worse, is it unsafe to eat? The good news is, it’s a completely natural process that happens when cooking fish and is completely fine to consume. But if you’re still a little freaked out, there are also easy ways to minimize it.
That white stuff is actually a liquid protein called albumin (not to be confused with albumen in eggs!) that’s found in raw fish. The reason you see it is because when salmon is cooked, the muscles within it contract, and the coagulated albumin rises to the surface and is squeezed out. Luckily, albumin is totally safe to eat and won’t alter the taste of your dish.
However, if you absolutely despise the look of it, there are ways to lessen how much you see. You may not be able to completely get rid of every spot of albumin (after all, it’s a natural part of the fish!), but at least these steps can reduce quite a bit of it. First, cooking salmon or another fish at a lower temperature for a longer period of time can help, such as lowering the temperature of an oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and baking it for 20 to 25 minutes instead of 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes. Second, if you’re grilling or broiling your salmon, you can brine it beforehand with salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, or any other spices you want. The process relaxes muscle fibers in the fish, keeping them from contracting and spilling albumin when under heat.
From there, you can otherwise prep your salmon however you like, but now you’ll no longer wonder what those white bits are when you sit down to enjoy it.