That white stuff popping out of the salmon fillet you are cooking received’t kill you. You’re not going to come back down with a case of Salmon Goop Poisoning (which, to be trustworthy, could be a fairly lame option to kick the bucket). However what is that white stuff, anyway? And why is it there?
Properly, to start out, let’s study its identify. The white stuff on salmon is named albumin.
Albumin is a protein that exists within the fish in liquid kind when it is uncooked, however coagulates and turns into semi-solid while you topic the salmon to warmth, whether or not that is within the oven, on the range, or on the grill. Because the meat cooks, the coagulated albumin will get squeezed out and seems within the type of the bizarre, slimy, white substance that you’re in all probability acquainted with (and weirded out by). Science is wild, huh?
However why does the quantity of albumin that comes out of a salmon fillet by no means appear to be constant? Generally, you’ll find yourself with a chunk that’s completely lined within the stuff, and typically you will not see any in any respect. That discrepancy has nothing to do with the kind of salmon you are cooking, however moderately how you are cooking it. The extra aggressively you cook dinner your salmon, whether or not it is wild or farm-raised, the extra albumin will seem on its floor.
Consider what occurs while you wring out a moist towel. The water contained in the fibers of the fabric is pushed out as you squeeze the fibers nearer collectively. The identical precept applies to salmon. As salmon cooks, the flesh contracts, pushing out albumin to the fillet’s floor. The upper the warmth, the extra shortly the flesh contracts, and the extra albumin turns into seen.
Albumin all the time exists inside your salmon fillet. The proteins will all the time be there. That being stated, the aim is to have as little as attainable on the surface of your fish, and there are 3 ways to ensure that occurs. First, cooking your salmon at a decrease temperature for an extended period of time is gentler on the fillet, leading to a super-tender piece of fish with much less nasty white stuff. Second, in case you are searing salmon (and fish normally), all the time achieve this with the pores and skin facet down. The pores and skin acts a protecting barrier between the fish and the recent steel pan. Even if you happen to plan on taking the pores and skin off, cook dinner your fish skin-side down for 90 % of the way in which, flip off the warmth, after which flip the fish so the skinless facet cooks on the pan’s residual warmth. And third, don’t overcook your salmon. This sounds apparent, however most dwelling cooks overcook their fish. (You need it medium to medium-rare within the heart, nonetheless a bit translucent.) And overcooking salmon is the simplest option to get albumin in every single place. A fast tip: When you possibly can push on the highest of your salmon with a fork, and the the layers of flesh separate simply and appear moist, your fish is completed cooking.
Take it off the warmth instantly. It’s positive. Please, don’t maintain cooking it. The one factor grosser than an entire bunch of albumin is an entire bunch of dry, overcooked salmon. Once more, neither will kill you. However nonetheless… gross.
This text initially appeared on Bon Appetit.