Okay, you know the deal. If you’re here it means you’ve had THIS situation way too many times to count: you got the most beautiful filet of salmon, you spent the time to cook it and you take it out of the oven or pan and… IT IS COVERED IN WHITE STUFF. It’s spilling out of what feels like every layer of the salmon and it’s like WHAT IS IT?! Let me tell you, I had that so many times and I went out on an adventure to find out: how to cook salmon WITHOUT the white stuff. It’s super easy, I promise, and it’ll change your life!
So what even is that white stuff that oozes out of salmon when it’s cooked?
Well to be short: albumin and it’s a protein that happens when you cook the salmon. It’s edible and totally fine. To be long: it’s albumin, a protein that is originally liquid in the fish that turns semi-solid as it cooks and comes out as this oozing white stuff that is totally fine to eat but freakish. It’s a reaction that the salmon makes because it’s being shocked by the heat. To read more about what that white stuff is, Bon Appetit has an article on “That White Stuff on Salmon.. Is it OK to Eat or Nah?”.
To be honest when I finally found the solution to a salmon without the white stuff or albumin, I was shocked… it’s actually super easy! The best way to reduce this is by first, brining the salmon in a nice cold bath of salty water. Now, normally a brine is super salty but because it’s seafood I tone it down a little bit. The next step is cooking in a cold pan with no oil and bringing it up to temperature. Once the salmon filets are about ⅓ of the way cooked, you’ll flip and add butter – obviously seasoning along the way too! That’s literally it .. I know!
INGREDIENTS for 2 Filets of Salmon (without that white stuff!)
2 Filets Salmon with Skin (I usually like to do 1 LB for two people)
2 TBSP Unsalted Butter
- In a large pot, add ~10 cups of cold water and 2-3 TBSP of kosher salt. Stir a few times until the salt seemingly dissolves.
- Add the salmon filets directly into the pot. If the water doesn’t cover it, add a little more water until the filets are submerged. Let sit in the brine for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
- Once the salmon has been sitting in the brine for 15-60 minutes, take out and onto a plate. Dab dry with a paper towel.
- Set a large pan on the stove-top. Sprinkle pan with salt and pepper (about ½ – 1 TSP of each, enough to lightly season the pan).
- Place the salmon filets SKIN DOWN on the pan. Turn the heat on to medium. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper, lightly – about ½ TSP.
- Cook on medium-heat until the salmon turns pink about ⅓ of the way. It takes me about 6-8 minutes.
- Use your spatula to cut the salmon from the skin – I sometimes have to use tongs to hold the salmon. Think of it as lifting the salmon from the pan right above the skin. Sometimes the skin sticks, just scoop it away with a spoon or with the spatula. Throw the skin to the side or in the trash – it only acts as a protectant from the heat in the beginning.
- Flip the salmon over back into the pan so that the side that had the skin is closest to you.
- Place 1 TBSP of butter on top of each filet, sprinkle really lightly with salt and pepper, and let cook. If the butter falls off that is fine, it’ll nicely brown the top of the salmon filet.
- Cook the salmon in the butter for about 5-minutes or until the middle of the salmon hits an internal temperature of 120ºF.