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Is this true when using dry salt/sugar cure on fish?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

According to this site. if you use a dry cure mix...


The processing time is shorter as fish does not need to be dried before the smoke is applied.


Is this true?  You don't have to form pellicle when cold smoking?

If it is, then I'm sure I missed it in all the threads.  Sadly, missing things is not hard for me to do.


I'm getting ready to try for my first time, cold smoking a salmon fillet.

Will be smoked at under 60* down to 40* for 8 hours or so.  Then cooked to safe IT.

post #2 of 10
The dry salt/sugar/cure of fish does extract liquid from the fish.... It needs to be rinsed and dried with toweling then form a pellicle in front of a fan before smoking...
post #3 of 10


Per you comment on processing time, is this referred to brining time?  .  Yes,  I still need to review the link you provided. What is the advantage to cold smoke fish before cooking it?  How safe is this method?   Lox is a whole different process.  I infact did some smoked lox this weekend which was first both wet and dry brined, then dried, then cold smoked, but I think your post is cold smoking fish then hot cooking it afterwards.  So in your case, how long are you brining before cold smoking?   Can't imagine smoking fish that does not have a good pellicle already established.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Well, using that site's explanation both the dry curing, and not having to dry to pellicle stage, would save a bunch of time overall.


My only question was "is it true you don't have to form a pellicle when cold smoking fish"?  I thought it strange,

but I thought I would ask if anyone has ever done it that way.  That's why I love this forum.  I can debunk the outside site's information, or get clarifying explanation.


Maybe it's because smoke doesn't adhere so fast at cold temps, that it is okay to skip the drying first?


I don't know.  Just asking about that statement.



I wasn't asking about brining, however, you've got me curious why you brine both dry and wet when making your smoked lox.

I've never had Lox, but it sounds good, and may try it someday.  I always thought it was just salted and pressed, in fridge for a long time, then rinsed and sliced to be eaten raw.



What is the advantage to cold smoke fish before cooking it?  How safe is this method?

I don't know the advantages, other than I am trying to reduce my excess "skin leather" on the flesh side of my fish that I get when I smoke it in my offset smoker.  If I can cold smoke it to color and smokiness I like then cook it to finish, I may end up with salmon that doesn't need a chainsaw to break it.  LOL


Safety?  Method from a trusted member who does sell his cold smoked salmon to public and restaurants.  His salmon has been inspected and tested at labs for safety.


So much to learn, and so of short of time left....   I wish I had gotten into this smoking stuff when I was 20 or so :)

post #5 of 10

I've seen more cold smoke recipes calling for a very long drying (curing) time in the fridge as compared to no drying time at all.  It sounds like you are  basically smoking some lox with a dry brine for a few hours and with a long smoke.   As far as food safety, as long as it has been cured for the typical hours used in doing lox or Gravlax, rinsed well, then I don't really see an issue. I personally would still follow most recipes and fridge it for a few hours before smoking.

Edited by cmayna - 11/17/15 at 3:06pm
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 


I just went to my link above and thought maybe I had posted a wrong link.  I could not find the statement about "not drying" before smoking, until I read it about 3 more times.  Then I found it down the page.  LOL


Quote:What’s Better Dry Salt or Brine?

It is harder to get consistent results with dry salting as the fish come in different size, weight and shape. The brine, however, will find a way to enter every little opening. Brined fish will acquire salt and flavorings in all areas. If you catch one or two fish, sprinkling with salt may be more practical. It is faster to sprinkle fish with a dry mix and start smoking. It is a question of economics as less space and equipment is required.

Quote from this paragraph:
The processing time is shorter as fish does not need to be dried before the smoke is applied.

In addition much salt will be wasted when brine is discarded. There is less salt wasted when sprinkling fish with dry mix. However, if you process 50 fish, then it becomes a little commercial venture and brining is a better solution. A correct strength brine can be made a day earlier and may be kept in the refrigerator until needed. The advantage of using brine is that once the strength of the brine has been chosen, the product will always be consistent as long as the process time takes into account the size of the fish. Fat fish should be fully submerged as air contributes to the rancidity.

Smaller establishments such as a fish restaurants or take out stores are very busy and don’t have enough storage space to keep fish in tanks. An additional employee might be needed to cope with those additional chores. Brining requires time, the brined fish is wet; it needs to drain and dry out before the smoke can be applied. To save space and time they cure fish with dry mix.


Also after further reading, I noticed that in their Dry Mixes section, they seem to be using a ratio inverse to what most people here use.


Their ratio's ranges from:

4.6 salt to 1 sugar, by weight

down to 3.75 salt to 1 sugar, by weight.


That's GOT to be some salty fish, I would think.  Maybe that's why they don't need drying time.  There's no moisture left!  LOL


So for me, I will continue using a drying time, unless a long standing member on this sites tells me of their success using no dry time.

post #7 of 10


I really think it's what you prefer in taste, texture, etc. Since I've have always used a dry brine with a 4/1 (sugar/salt) ratio and hot smoke for "my" typical smoked salmon that is what I like.  Yes the skin is firm but very acceptable to me.  Since you prefer a much softer skin,  doing the typical cold smoke salmon with a longer cure time, using a more equal ratio of salt might be the way to go.  All in all, we all need to experiment to see what we might like.


I spent a fair amount of time yesterday searching cold smoke salmon recipes which seemed like being a cold smoke lox and most of them do have a drying period of a typical 5+ hours in the fridge. So going directly from the rinsed off brine directly into the smoker was not that common and I would like to hear more from those who have done that.  But maybe when you cold smoke for 8+ hours enough time is given to allow a pellicle to form.   I might experiment in the next few day doing a couple different  cold smoke recipes, just to see what happens, but will probably include a fridge drying time.  At worst case, I know this very old guy up in San Francisco who loves lox and he'll eat any version put in front of him.

post #8 of 10


Have you done it yet?   Would love to hear and see the results.   Oh and BTW, you got me thinking a lot about trying another couple different recipes.  Here's a link to my new thread.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

No I haven't.  Plans got put on hold for a few days.

post #10 of 10


Per my recent thread, you will see that most are air drying (in the fridge),  but nothing is set in stone.  The first recipe I listed claims no drying time but doing 24 hours of cold smoke, I question if the beginning of that smoking period is the same as air drying.



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