What’s This White Stuff on my Fish?

by Gavan on January 9, 2012

Does this look familiar? I’ve even done this myself so know that just ’cause I cook for a living doesn’t mean I don’t mess up every so often. Actually this is not that hard to do as some of you guys might have seen on Top Chef the other week, a cheftestant got criticized for over-cooking salmon and was nearly sent packing. Here’s the scoop.

What this is is Albumin.

Let me explain. When the muscle fibers in the flesh are heated they contract like with any protein. If over-heated or heated too quickly the moisture-filled albumin is pushed to the surface of the flesh. Once the protein reaches temperatures between 140 and 150 degrees, its moisture is squeezed out and the protein albumin leaches out of the fish and coagulates unattractively on the surface as seen in the photo. Not only does the albumin make the fish look unappetizing, but it also indicates a loss of moisture in the fish. Even though it’ll probably be dry it’s edible so no panic there but in theory, a piece of salmon should be cooked until just before the albumin becomes visible. Since salmon has the propensity to become dry as it’s not the oiliest of fish the best way to cook it is low and slow, as they say.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie March 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Your amazing! I came across your website today and you have already taught me so much! My Pork loin is cooking right now (fennel crusted). This is the first time I have cooked pork :-)
I never thought twice about the white coagulated liquid that sits on top of my Salmon being an indication of my poor cooking technique. Thank you so much and I cannot wait to cook Salmon again with my gained knowledge!

Gavan March 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Hey Laurie, thanks for checking in and I’m delighted you got what you needed here. Much appreciated. Take care. G.

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