As you know by now, there are so many ways to cook salmon. And because this fish allows you a lot of creativity for seasoning it, one great way to flavor the salmon is to brine and smoke it! Brining salmon is a good way to inject both flavor and moisture into the fish simultaneously. Brining will draw out some moisture due to the effects of the salt, but the flavors still infuse dramatically. Salmon can be typically brined in two ways: dry or wet. Today we’re going to talk about how to dry brine salmon.
Dry brining is also known as pre-salting. It involves rubbing the salt, adding seasoning directly onto the salmon skin, and then letting the meat stay in the refrigerator for some time before cooking. This makes salmon taste and looks DELICIOUS!
Wet brining is the process of submerging the meat in salt water. Like a salt bath for your meat! Other ingredients may also be added for flavor, but the overall purpose of this method is to infuse moisture into the meat when it cooks.
So, the main difference between dry brine and wet brine is that dry brine uses no water. Also, way less sodium is used in the dry brine method!
How To Dry Brine Salmon
First, know this method will take about 6-8 hours. Knowing this time frame will allow you to mentally schedule this recipe for your occasion. Below we have mentioned an easy smoked salmon recipe with step-by-step dry brine mixture instructions:
Salmon Brine Ingredients
- 1 cup of kosher salt
- 1 and 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 pounds salmon fillets
- ½ cup honey
- 3 cups wood chips (soaked)
- 2 bottles or cans of Coca Cola
Step 1: Make Brine Solution
For making the brine solution, just combine kosher salt and one cup of brown sugar in a small bowl. You can even add other ingredients as well to create a more exciting flavor.
Step 2: Spread Dry Brine to Coat Fillets
Now, spread a thin layer of the salmon dry brine in the base of a 9-inch baking pan. Place salmon fillets with the salmon skin side facing down on the bottom of the pan (usually two or three fillets) and make sure that your fish is sitting into the salt and brown sugar mixture.
Repeat layers until all the salmon fillets get coated well.
Step 3: Chill the Salmon Brine and Salmon in the Fridge
Let the fish rest in the brine solution for 6 to 8 hours. Just cover the fillets tightly with a plastic wrap or zip lock bag and then place it in the dehumidified section of your fridge. This will prevent cross-contamination with other stuff stored in the fridge.
Step 4: Preheat the Smoker
Next, preheat the smoker to 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5: Remove Salmon from Dry Brine
Now, when your salmon is ready to cook, rinse off your salmon fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Brush them lightly with honey and then sprinkle leftover brown sugar on top. Discard the leftover brine solution as you do not want to reuse any of it for another cooking occasion due to safety standards.
Step 6: Add Coca Cola into Water Pan
Put Coca-Cola into the water pan of your smoker. Add water within one inch from the top of the pan.
Step 7: Place Salmon on the Racks
Now, put half of the wood chips around the hot charcoal and place salmon on the cooking racks.
Step 8: Cook Salmon
Cook the salmon for about two hours and feel free to add more wood chips if necessary. To make sure your smoking salmon is cooked to perfection, insert an instant-read thermometer just at the center of the salmon; when it reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the salmon is ready to cool.
Step 9: Finished Product
Now its time to enjoy your salmon! Plate it individually or place your salmon dish on a serving platter for you and your guests to enjoy.
Salmon Brining Tips:
Watch Out for Cross-Contamination
Keep all your utensils clean and watch for cross-contamination when handling raw salmon. If anything touches the raw food, wash it immediately.
Use the Brine Just One Time
Avoid using the brine after it has been used already. It’s not safe to use the brine more than once because it has already been in contact with the raw protein.
Add Fresh Herbs and Spices
Use fresh herbs, spices, fresh garlic, chopped onion, soy sauce, etc. in the brine as it will intensify the smoked flavor. But make sure you first give them a quick simmer in a small amount of water for ten to fifteen minutes to blend the flavors together.
Adjust Saltiness As Per Your Taste
Feel free to decrease or increase the brining time to adjust the saltiness of the salmon. It’s worth keeping records of how long you brine and wash. Then use that info to make adjustments with your next batch.
Chill the Brining Salmon to a Safe Temperature
Keep the brining salmon cold for some time to prevent bacterial growth. It’s best to keep the brining meat in the fridge at 35 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pick the Best Salt and Sugar
Make sure you use the best salt for your brine. Using iodized salt can add a metallic taste.
Non-iodized salt is perfect for brining. This includes table salt, Kosher salt, Himalayan salt, pickling salt, etc. Sugar also plays a vital role in your salmon brine. Note, both light and dark brown sugar are perfect.
Rinse and Dry the Fish Before Smoking
Although you use a brine to add additional flavor to your fish, make sure you rinse the brine and dry the salmon fillets one hour before smoking. This will get rid of all excess spices that may have bundled together while resting.
Experiment with Other Ingredients
Feel free to experiment with other ingredients and flavors as per your taste.
Will you try brined salmon?
If you’re looking for a seasoning method that involves easy preparation and big deal taste, brining your salmon is the way to go! Not only does it prevent albumin from leaching out, which is the white substance you are familiar with seeing when cooking salmon other ways, but it also creates a juicier outcome.
Make the ideal dry brine smoked salmon with our above-mentioned recipe and pair it with a delicious salad or sauteed veggies. You are so welcome!