How to use a Brine for Smoked Salmon

Oct 6, 2017 | Blog

Brining is not of those secrets that have been guarded by the Japanese or any other country for that matter. Information about brining is out there in the open. However, not everyone out there knows how to brine smoked salmon. Again, there is no well-protected secret over here. It’s just that the majority of the people out there haven’t experimented enough to figure out the best brine for smoking salmon. I was one of those guys for several years and beyond.

But, not anymore! If you want to come to the other side of the pasture too, then get ready for the best brine of your life.

Brining Essentials

Millions of people already know this. Brining requires two essential things —salt and water. I am sure both these ingredients would be right up your alley. The salt helps with the flavor and water embraces the extra moisture. Basically, you should be good to go with these two ingredients alone, but that won’t produce a smashing dish. We will add other seasonings and aromatics to create a bombshell. Our recipe will have a tasty flavor profile. After all, we don’t want to end up eating something that tastes like cardboard. Worst yet, if something like that is served to the guests, it will ruin our credibility and nose. Having said that, let’s get to the meat of the matter now.

Steps to Prepare the Brine

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Take an empty pot and fill it with enough water to completely submerge the salmon. At this point, we have not added the salmon yet. So, you will have to guess the water intake. This shouldn’t be a big feat at all because the salmon would surely be within your eye’s reach. Therefore, you will know the closest-to-correct water estimate. Now, add 4 cups of brown sugar and 1 cup of salt to the pot. Why are we adding sugar? Well, try it out, and you will notice the amazing difference in taste. You can look at it as an added bonus. It will contribute to the complexity of the flavor and leave behind a soft texture like moist sand. Therefore, it’s highly recommended without any reservations.

Brining Prep Continues…

Now, it’s time to delight your desires. I mean, you can add any other spices of your choice and let it boil. If you aren’t sure of the blend of ingredients to be used to make the salmon more delicious, I will include some information about it below. Coming back to the preparation of the brine, the next thing to do over here is to simmer the solution for about 4-5 minutes. Then, remove the solution from the heat to cool down. To bring the temperature down, you will be adding a couple of cups of ice cubes. Over here, we need a temperature of 450F. Once the desired temperature is reached, you should be ready to add the salmon. Don’t expect a quick fix over here. You are required to soak the salmon overnight. Let the brine work its magic for the rest of the night, while you can enjoy a deep sleep. Once you wake up the next morning, you can remove the salmon from the brine and pat it dry with napkins or paper towels.

How to make Salmon tastier?

  1. Herbs

Herbs can be your best friend over here. They can add a ton of fresh flavor to the brine. From parsley, dill, minced garlic, basil, and onion powder, the choices are endless. All you have to do is scatter them with a little bit of oil and citrus juice, and you should be good to go.

  1. Breadcrumbs

If you are not a fan of breadcrumbs, you are missing out on a lot of taste and flavor. Your best bet would be to insert breadcrumb mixture inside the flesh sides of the fish. Breading will give it a crispy exterior, while the inside flesh will remain moist and tender.

  1. Butter

If you have to pick only a handful of ingredients, go for butter! Melted butter will give it the icing on the cake effect. You can easily melt the butter on top of a stove or oven without too much of a fuss. Once the final product is ready, you should pour the melted butter over the salmon and sprinkle it with lime to enjoy the zest.

How to Smoke a Salmon?

As the fish dries in room temperature for one to three hours, prepare your smoker to maintain a temperature of 150-160°F. Remember, the charcoal fire or gas should be hot enough to fire up the wood chips. This will ensure that the woods leave will behind a nice flavor to the fish. You can easily find a variety of wood chips both online and offline. You will have to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before use. Your best bet would be to place the fish on the cool side, where the salmon will slowly cook at its own pace while smoking. Depending on the size and thickness of the fish, the cooking process will take 1-3 hours. When the thickest part of the salmon registers 140 degrees, you should know that the salmon is ready to be served without any reservations. Now, it’s time to rest the salmon. So, remove it from the smoker and place it on the baking sheet. Wrap it with a foil and let the fish rest for half an hour. It may be impossible to resist yourself at this point, so try your best to control your temptations. Believe it or not, some time for cooling can contribute to the taste because it allows the muscles to relax and the juices to distribute evenly.

Almost Done!

We are almost nearing the end. Once the short waiting period is over, remove the foil and serve your juicy creation. It will surely turn out juicy and tasty. Combine it with a cold beer or a glass of wine, and you will have a blast of a lifetime. Any leftover can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for as much as ten days. It won’t likely last that long in the fridge because it would be impossible for you guys to resist the dish for an extended period of time.  

Billy StewartBilly Stewart

Founder of

My dad is a true mans man, and has owned a number of grills. Ranging from gas to charcoal. Growing up with him allowed me to see what different types of rubs, spices, brines, etc went into making the best BBQ. Although my dad was a truck driver, and I had a degree in Information Technology I knew that I wanted to do something about grilling and our recipes.  That’s where Barbeque Smoked comes in.


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