Help! first smoke ever and it's too salty..

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by captain randy, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. I posted in the fish forum yesterday but did not get a response..

    I want to fire up the smoker and try this again, but I'm uncertain how I should adjust the recipe.

     I brined in the recipe below for 24 hours. Then let it air dry in the fridge for another 12 hours.

    I fired up the propane smoker and loaded it with non soaked apple wood. I filled the water bowl with the brine. It smoked for an hour and 40 minutes at 225 degrees.

    The Shark is the darker, thicker fish in the pic. It came out perfectly! The Cod and Haddock have good flavor, but are a little too salty. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


    2 quarts water

    1 cup granulated sugar

    3/4 cup coarse kosher salt

    1-1/2 tbls crushed black pepper

    1 tsp granulated garlic

    2 tbls Worcestershire sauce

    1/4 cup brown sugar

    4 bay leaves

    simmer water at low temp

    add all ingredients and simmer until dissolved

    remove from heat, cool to below 40 degrees f

    add fish, brine in fridge 24 hours
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  2. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Les Salt and rinse first, before cooking . . .
  3. Thanks for responding.

    I rinsed really well. I'll try cutting the salt by a 1/4 cup. That should fall in line with the 1 cup to 1 gallon rule.

    Do you think brining for a couple hours opposed to overnight will help as well?
  4. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's a strong brine for 24h brine time.I only wet brined fish once and didnt like the result (salty and not the texture I expected).

    I find dry brining easier and consistent. Takes a few hours.
    captain randy likes this.
  5. dean shultis

    dean shultis Newbie

    Hi Randy,

    In my experience, brining shark is necessary to draw out the urea/ammonia, but I wouldn't brine cod or haddock.  Think of English fish & chips.  They typically use either of those fishes, but the only seasoning used is in the batter.   Great tasting fish don't need much help in the seasoning department, imo.

    ps  If you live along the Gulf coast, try finding some dead black mangrove wood for smoking fish.    
    captain randy likes this.
  6. smokinadam

    smokinadam Smoking Fanatic

    yes I would not do it for a day on fish. Way to easy for the salt to get in deep on softer meats.
    captain randy likes this.
  7. sb59

    sb59 Smoking Fanatic

    For skinless fillets a 4hr brine should be all you need. 
    captain randy likes this.
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    captain randy likes this.
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    IMO--The length of time in Brine depends on the thickness of the Fish pieces & the strength of your brine.

    I explain that in my Smoked Salmon Step by Step (Below):


    Smoked Salmon  

  10. Thanks Bear. I found the link very helpful.
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Randy, morning... a fool proof method is equilibrium brining... weight the fish and the liquid... add 2% salt and 1% sugar and spices... for the liquid, I try to stay around 25% weight of the fish... example: 4# fish 1# liquid... 5#'s of stuff needs 0.02 x 5 = 0.1# salt, 0.05# sugar.... refer for a day or 2... impossible to over/under salt... adjust salt% to your taste after a trial run... after brine, let sit in refer for a day or so to come to equilibrium in the meat... cure can be added if long cold smokes are in the works at approx.1-1.5 grams per pound for 140-200 Ppm cure rate...
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
  12. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I did salmon once and it came out waaay too salty too.  It has something to do with the way you brined it.  Too long?
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I dry brine and wet brine my salmon all the time... It never comes out salty.... I weigh the fish and weigh the salt... that way, it can be left indefinitely in the brine.... no guessing....
  14. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's true what Dave said.

    If you go by the equilibrium method like Dave does, and use the proper amounts in the brine, it can't get too salty.

    With the method I use you have to brine for the right amount of time---Longer for bigger pieces & shorter for smaller pieces, but I don't get any too salty either, because I'm careful to not brine anything too long. If I would leave small pieces in my brine as long as I do the bigger pieces they could be a bit salty.

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
  15. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Does dry brining salmon work just ask well?  I've been dry brining all my meats lately, around 36 hours. 
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes.... weigh the fish.... add 2-2.5% salt (depends on how much salt you like)... add 1% + sugar (depends on your taste also) and add spices for flavors... garlic, onion, etc...
    Then you can leave it for up to 3 days.... depends on the thickness of the fish... Rinse in ice cold water for a few minutes, I usually rinse for 2-3 minutes.... then dry....
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
  17. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Great info TY.  What about the weight to salt ratio for meat?
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I don't understand your question....
  19. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I read your comment as, 1lb of fish = 0.02lbs of salt correct?

    Does that same ratio apply to dry brining meat with kosher salt?
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    To make life easier.... get a grams scale... 1# = 454 grams.... 2% = 9 grams.... MUCH easier to figure...

    Meat for smoking, BBQ'ing, etc.... 2% is a good starting point.... Some bacon can have 2.5 - 3% salt.... I stick with 2% for my bacon....

    You want to use the least amount of liquid possible and still do the job.... That increases the concentration in the liquid and forces the equilibrium process...

    For curing meats, 3.5 - 10% salt can be recommended... depends on the recipe... always follow the recipe...
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015

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