Brining Salmon prior to smoking -
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Old 12-14-2002, 01:17 AM   #1
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Default Brining Salmon prior to smoking

I have heard mixed opinions on how long to brine salmon prior to smoking. Some say only a few hours while others say up to twenty four hours. I have also heard that covering the salmon in rocksalt for about eight hours is all you need to do. Not sure about that though. I know Alder is the way to go for wood and I plan on using charcoal and alder. I have never smoked salmon, just brisket "turned out superb" as I just started to learn the craft of smoking meat.
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Old 12-14-2002, 01:23 AM   #2
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

I think it should be in brine at least 12 hours. Send you my brine recipe if you are interested. Shoot me an e-mail, I'll check when I get up.

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Old 12-14-2002, 04:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

Smoking fish is kinda like drift fishing, lots of feel involved. The time in the brine depends on:
How big/thick are the pieces, 40 lb nooker or a 6 pound slime rocket

How much flavor do you want to impart into the meat. Simple salt sugar brine or do you have terakee, grlic, tobasco, basil, BBQ sauce, in your brine

Temperature, warmer will work faster, but cool is important

When I am smoking large chinook and brining in a fridge using a "heavy" brine I like 12 hrs min and 18 - 24 is OK. I have a friend that uses a dry brine and have tasted his 4 hr stuff and it's pretty good. Recently tasted some tht was 4 days in the brine and smoked long time, kinda hard, very sweet and absolutely delicious.

If you are using little chief, a one gal freezer zip loc holds one smoker worth and is great to brine in. Keep it in a dish pan as they do leak. Remember to stir/ move the pieces at least once to get 100% coverage. You might try rubbing a little brn sugar on each piece just prior to drying, makes it real pretty looking.

Do yourself a favor and keep a log for your first 20 or so batches and you will learn what you like best. And one last word of advice ... If you would not put the fish on your dinner table don't bother putting it in your smoker.... they are not magic boxes...........
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Old 12-14-2002, 07:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

The base is 1 cup salt (non-iodized) and 1 cup sugar to 1/2 gal of water. From there, add any of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, terriaki, substitute (or just add) brown sugar, honey, Johnny's Seafood seasoning, Mrs. Dash, black pepper, tabasco, to taste (start with a tablespoon or as much as you like). Experiment.

Leave in the brine as long as you like but a minimum of 12 hours. Thicker fillets take longer to brine. Previously frozen fish accepts salt better so cut back on the salt unless you like salty smoked fish.

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Old 12-14-2002, 07:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

12 hours here, and stir it ever so often.


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Old 12-14-2002, 08:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

1/4 Cup Rock Salt
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2-3 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning
12 Oz. Honey
1 Tsp. All Spice Seasoning
Water to Cover
Drops of Liquid Smoke to taste

I smoke this over apple chips. It would probably be good over any wood though.
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Old 12-14-2002, 08:10 AM   #7
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

1/2 to 3/4 hour when using dry cure is the most time you should do. Thicker and fatter (oil) chunks take longer than thin, lean ones.
I go by feel, the fish should feel firm and kind of krinkley. It takes time and experience to get it right.

The more salt in your brine (liquid) the less time you soak the fish.

If you do get a over salted batch you can dry it all the way and use it in place of salt in chowder. Just crumble it in to the chowder and it adds flavor and color.

[ 12-14-2002, 09:13 AM: Message edited by: Keta ]
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Old 12-14-2002, 08:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

As I understand it, the purpose of brining is to replace the water in the cells of the flesh with salt and sugar. This is what preserves the fish.

I found that at least 12 hrs is important and I even had one batch go 36 hours with no harm. I always use non iodized salt and sugar in equal quantities.

The most important step is just before smoking. It's important to remove the surface salt from the brined meat by quickly rinsing and then immediately tamping dry with a paper towel. Then leave the filets in the open air 1-3 hrs to get a dull coating, called pellicle, on the outside.

Finally, just before going in the smoker, I liberally coat the filets with the best maple syrup I can buy. Then about half way thru the smoking process, another coat of syrup.

One last tip. I usually put my filets on shopping bag paper that is cut to the size of the piece. That way when the smoking is done, it's very easy to peel off the skin as it attaches to the paper.
Hope this helps.
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Old 12-14-2002, 08:27 AM   #9
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

I like around 12 h ours of brine.. and I use alder and Apple to smoke it. and just for the heck of it..

2cups soy sauce
1cup sugar
1tsp pepper
1tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
1/2tsp tabasco

Put it in a pan and add brown suger to your liking.. I smoke it for around 8 hours. in a little chief and an hour (approx) before it is done I mix up a honey/brownsuger glaze and put it on there.. yumm yumm yumm yumm... now i'm going to have to go catch anoterh fish to eat!!
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Old 12-14-2002, 08:40 PM   #10
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Default Re: Brining Salmon prior to smoking

I like the idea of C22 and Lepper's, but I would follow your instincts on the seasonings and spices. Koshering is always a good idea for hot OR cold smoking. Not that I have any Tendencies, but as Marilyn Monroe put it "Some Like It Hot!"
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