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Jun 19, 2014 05:53 PM

Scum forms when cooking frozen salmon

This has happened several times when I've cooked frozen salmon or other fish portions. Most recently I wrapped salmon in foil & cooked it on a grill -- covered most of the time. Then tonight I roasted a portion atop a bed of thinly sliced baby Yukon gold potatoes. Both times I had seasoned the salmon with good quality olive oil & s&p (added fresh herbs later). Both times it came out cooked through, more than I like, actually, with a frothy white scum on top. Quite unappetizing.

The salmon is "Atlantic farm-raised" from Chile (from Wegmans). Don't remember what the other fish was but it was a thick white fish, also from Wegmans. Any info on what might be causing this would be much appreciated -- TIA.

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  1. It's the albumin. Try brining for a short time prior to cooking it will help

    1. It's completely natural on Salmon or Trout. We cook them in different ways and haven't even bothered to note when and how. I often get this with "same day" fish depending how we do it so it's not a "keeping" problem.

      Brining as noted by Scubadoo97 will cause a dull film to form on the surface known as a "pellicle" if the piece is rinsed, drained and let sit.

      Again, no alarm - this is what you want. The pellicle picks up smoke and seasoning.

      Enjoy your fish.

      4 Replies
      1. re: DockPotato

        But also decreases the albumin secretion

        1. re: scubadoo97

          Strange then. I brine overnight in max brine and brown sugar, smoke 4+ hours and often get the white stuff.

          1. re: DockPotato

            Yeah it looks so good I drool too ;). Seriously, do you get a lot or a little?

            1. re: scubadoo97

              It varies and I don't know why. Sometimes there's none and other times it is very pronounced.

              I must say though that I've only seen the white while smoking the pieces. I cant't recall it occurring while broiling, poaching or pan frying. Having said that, the white may have been there but totally unremarkable as I'm dealing with fish less than a few hours old - okay, I reluctantly freeze on occasion, especially at the end of the fall or spring runs.

              Even though I'm dealing with fresh water Salmonids from Lake Huron - Rainbow, Chinook, Brown, Coho or Lakers - thymeoz may safely consume her fish with no concerns.

              I just scrape the stuff off and go to it.

      2. you may be overcooking your fish - excessive albumin secretion is frequently linked to overdone salmon. try cooking at a lower temp and/or less well-done. in conventional wisdom, salmon does its best cooked right around medium-rare, and is generally considered overdone if taken past medium.

        1. This also happens if the pan or oven is too hot when you start cooking. Sudden temperature shift makes the albumin get pushed out of the muscle more dramatically than if you raise the temperature slowly or cook on a lower temp.

          1. I would make sure the fish is thawed completely, and not still frozen a little in the middle before cooking. Then blot out as much excess moisture from it as you can, with paper towel, before brushing it with some oil and putting it on the grill.

            It does look unappetizing when this happens, but it's also fairly easy to just scrape it off with a knife or spatula too.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Atomic76

              All it is is protein.
              It's 'the good stuff'.
              You'll get a pellicle depending on the fish/how fresh it is but most importantly based on how hot your smoker is. Hot smoker more pellicle generally speaking.
              I have been smoking salmon/trout/ling cod/rock cod for decades. Cold smoking results in less pellicle forming.
              I visited a professional cold smoking business once.
              Huge racks of skin-on fillets of fresh caught atlantic salmon.
              After the fillets were done there wasn't a speck of pellicle on them.
              I asked the owner about this. He told me getting the temperature and amount of air perfect was the secret.
              This is what the fillets ended up looking like:

              1. re: Puffin3

                Puffin we're talking the same thing right? Pellicle forms after brining and should be part of the process. It's the dull film formed by the oil migrating to the surface - not the white albumen.

                I'm smoking fresh water catch which must be brought to 145*F internally because they carry different parasites so cold smoking is not an option - unless I freeze to -20*C for 2 weeks which is also not an option.

                1. re: DockPotato

                  You're right. I'm misusing the word.
                  I'm referring to the white albumen that can form on the surface of most meats.
                  You can sometimes see it on the bone of a pork chop and fish when being cooked.
                  The pellicle which forms on fish after brining/drying is the pellicle.
                  Sorry for any confusion.