Juicy, tender salmon fillets perfectly seared and cooked to perfection. The best part: no white stuff! This salmon recipe is the only recipe you’ll need for any type of salmon (frozen OR fresh). Should I even add that you only need butter, water, salt and pepper?
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!
The result: cooked salmon is juicy, tender and no white stuff! This is the only salmon recipe you’ll ever need!
So what even is that white stuff…
It oozes out of salmon when it cooks and makes us feel weird. What is it?
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.
What Type of Salmon Should I Use?
There are over 6 types of salmon in the United States, making it hard to choose from at the store! If possible, try to buy wild Alaskan salmon.
- King Salmon - highest in fat and usually known for an almost melting texture. King or Chinook Salmon is typically the biggest salmon filets and is great for serving a large crowd.
- Sockeye Salmon - very flavorful and one of the leanest cuts of salmon. Sockeye salmon is typically very thin looking and has a bright red color.
- Coho Salmon - medium fat content and has a more subtle flavor. Coho salmon is not as known as other types of salmon but is best for cooking whole.
- Steelhead Salmon - often very affordable and can be quite cheap. Steelhead salmon often tastes less like salmon and more like rainbow trout. It looks the most like Atlantic salmon.
- Atlantic Salmon - (aka farmed salmon) mild and affordable. Wild Atlantic Salmon is no longer available commercially, so Atlantic salmon is quite controversial.
Salmon Benefits & Nutritional Facts
Salmon is a great fish to cook with! It is not only a great source of protein and lower in calories, but it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, high in Vitamin B and also a good source of potassium!
How Can I Cook It So There’s No White Stuff
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!
How to Brine Salmon
Brining salmon not only helps eliminate the albumin that is released when cooking salmon, but it also adds great flavor. Think of it as a salt bath!
A traditional brine recipe is through ratios - mix 1 cup of salt per every gallon of water; or ¼ cup of salt per 4 cups of water. You can use this ratio to brine chicken, meat or seafood. You’ll want to stir until the salt is completely dissolved in the cup and then add the salmon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Albumin is perfectly safe to eat. It is only a protein that is released from salmon when cooking. This recipe ensures you won’t have to, though!
You can definitely use frozen salmon! If using frozen salmon filets I suggest to brine them for longer to dethaw the filets prior to cooking.
When salmon is cooked at a cold temperature, it can cook unevenly and will most likely release the white stuff when cooked in a hot pan. It is best to brine in cold water that comes to room temperature OR let sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes prior to cooking.
I wouldn’t brine salmon for more than overnight otherwise it may get TOO salty. I suggest 15-120 minutes for optimal taste.
Nope! You don’t need to rinse salmon after brining it. Only pat salmon filets dry with a paper towel and then it’s ready to sear.
What to Pair with Perfectly Cooked Salmon
- Easy Asian Cucumber Salad
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Spinach & Fennel
- Kale Fennel Dried Fig Salad with Lemon Chive Dressing
- Kale Quinoa Salad with Orange Ginger Dressing
- Spring Vegetarian Pasta with Butter Sauce
Other Fish Dishes
- Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos & Cabbage-Carrot Slaw
- Easy Grilled Swordfish Tacos
- Fried Tilapia Tacos with Kale-Carrot Slaw
- Roasted Garlic Salmon
- Dairy-Free Lemon & Shrimp Risotto
How to Cook Salmon without that White Stuff
- 2 Filets Salmon
- 2 TBSP Unsalted Butter
- 8-10 Cups Cold Water
- 3 TBSP Kosher Salt
- 1 TSP Salt
- 1 TSP Black Pepper
- In a large pot, add the 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 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Once the salmon has been sitting in the brine, take out and onto a plate. Dab dry with a paper towel.
- Set a large pan on the stove-top.
- Place the salmon filets skin down on the pan. Turn the heat on to medium. Sprinkle with half of the seasoning.
- Cook on medium-heat until the salmon turns pink about ⅓ of the way. About 6-8 minutes.
- Use your spatula to cut the salmon from the skin. 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 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.