What is that White Stuff Coming Out of Salmon?

Have you ever seen white stuff (or "goo" as some people call it) coming out of the meat of the salmon after you have cooked it? What is it? And is it normal?  And more importantly, is it edible?

In short ... The white stuff is normal and edible and is one way to tell when the fish is done. It is more prevalent in better quality fish. The longer you cook the fish, the more of it comes out.

What is this white stuff on my salmon?
What is this white stuff on my salmon?

White Stuff From Salmon Normal

Some people have asked in web forums whether the white stuff is normal or whether the fish is good. Afterall, it does not look that appealing.

Yes, it is normal. And in fact, the fresher and better quality the fish, the more of it you might see.

The forum members on discusscooking.com says that ...

"you'll find this occurs more with pacific salmon than atlantic
... i also find it seems to be more abundant the fresher the fish"[7]

As mentioned in the article "Which is Best Salmon to Eat -- Wild or Farmed?", Atlantic salmon is pretty much farmed salmon.

And here's what people are saying on Yahoo Answers in response to the question Is it normal for white stuff to come out of salmon when you fry it?

All those people can't be wrong, can they?

White Stuff When Salmon's Done

Not only is the white stuff normal, but that is how you tell when the salmon is done.

Jim Rosenberg says ...

"When you see the fat oozing out ..., it’s well done, without being burned."[4]

And he even has pictures of the white coming out.

Another HubPages member wrote an Hub "How Long to Grill Salmon" saying that the timing of when to take the salmon off the heat is when you see the white stuff starting to come out.[3]


Is it Fat or Protein?

Salmon has a lot of good fats and is one of the best source of Omega-3 fatty acid. Since the color of fat is white, it is natural for most people to think that the white stuff is fat. But it is actually protein. Salmon is also a good source of protein.

Michael Chu of cookingforengineers.com says ...

"I'm not sure what the white stuff is - most people call it fat, but I'm not sure if it is. Seems like it's closer to a protein. In any case, this is normal - but usually only happens when salmon is fully cooked (which in my book means it's over cooked). It's completely edible."[1]

Forum member on bellybelly.com.au says it's protein ...

"Its the protein coming out and if you see that it means that it is overcooked. It is still edible, but just a little over cooked is all."[5]

Forum member on extremeskins.com calls the white stuff "albumin" (which means protein).

"Once it's almost done (you should see all the white stuff (albumin) popping out from the pink flesh)"[2]

Yahoo Answers member says ...

"The white material is not fat, it is a protein exudate similar to what you get from pork and some other meats."[6]

Forum member on discusscooking.com says that if the white stuff comes after cooking, then ...

"it's probably just bits of protein that rose to the surface with moisture and coagulated. Same thing happens quite often to hamburgers when they are cooked undisturbed... except it's gray goo."[7]

Another says it's "blood proteins" and another says it is ...

"That's the serum albumen, part of the the blood, that's still present in the flesh of a critter after it's cleaned. It will set up and congeal just like the albumen in egg whites."[7]

How to Avoid White Stuff from Salmon

One person looked all over the internet without finding the answer and so asked the question on Yahoo Answers: "How do I cook salmon and avoid all the white fatty stuff that accumulates on it while it is cooking?"

Perhaps the reason why answer could not be found is because there is no real way to avoid the white stuff. But some things to try is to not overcook, to marinate the salmon, brush it away during cooking, and dry the meat before cooking. To make better presentation, just scrape it off before serving.

More suggestions can be found on Yahoo Answers linked here. One even said ...

"Just before you pick it up to plate it or turn it over, slide it around on the pan or grill a little, and knock off the parts around the top edge. The goop will stick to the cooking surface instead of the meat."[6]

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