Wet vs Dry, for Salmon. Fresh vs frozen

Discussion in 'Fish' started by fpmich, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    WOW!  A LOT of replies now!   I like that!

    However I usually  try to bold type a name for each comment,  I won't do that this time to save time.  Just up to you to decide who I am replying too.  LOL

    No need to dry in fridge other than I wasn't going to be smoking it for a few hours, and this give me a slight head start on pellicle forming, plus it also gives more time to equalize the cure in fish.  I did air dry them 3 hours with fan before starting in smoker.

    8 & 1/2 hours in dry cure WAS Just a tad salty, but not overly so.  However I DID rinse it.  I just couldn't just squeegee it by hand.  It might work, but I didn't trust that part this time.  I may have used not enough sugar too.  I also just rounded cupped like the guy in the video.

    Flavor is good except I used too little of flavorings, because of being new to dry cure mix,  I'm more comfortable with a wet cure.  Then I know all my desired flavors are being absorbed.  I think maybe you need more spice flavor stuff in dry brine than you do wet cure.

    Only open lid once to insert IT probe in, around the 2 hour mark, or so.  Did it, and shut it quick!

    I used Kosher Salt with dark brown sugar in brine.  I think I like light brown sugar better though.  Still undecided on that.

    However this fish came out pretty darnned good, other than I didn't put enough other flavors in mix,  It will not be tossed out, I can tell you that!   LOL

    Now... no one has comment on fresh vs frozen for wet or dry brine use.   Any reason to use one over the other?

    All I know is that my fresh caught, unfrozen fish, brined and smoked in a kettle type smoker came out great.  Thin pellicle too.  But still held a couple of weeks in fridge.

    I still think my tough pellicle problem after smoking, is due to the large chamber, and air flow.

    I may go back to kettle and try some, or build a box to cover fish inside my CG with a vent.  That would still allow smoke to flow, but cut down on excessive air flow, as most of it would be going around the box.  What do you think?

    If I've missed a comment, or tip, please remind me of it.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  2. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Tomorrow is my last day to go Salmon fishing for the season.  I'll try to remember to bring home some extra for you to practice with.......but don't hold your breath [​IMG].

    Like others, I freeze all my fish which will be smoked later just to make sure all the little buggy critters (parasites) of the ocean are dead.  I don't put too many spices in my dry mix just so that I don't mask the excellent flavor of the fish itself.  I've tasted way too much smoked salmon from others which has been overspiced to the point that I can't even tell what I'm eating.  So be careful.
  3. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Actually I did comment on that, but I'll repeat:

    I did a lot of research when I worked on my method of Brining & Smoking Fish.

    According to my research there are 2 ways to get rid of parasites in fish. One way is to cook the fish to 160* IT. The other way is to freeze the fish to various temps for various times. Since I don't choose to Smoke my fish all the way to 160*, I freeze mine to below Zero for at least 30 days.

  4. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member


    Like so many things there probably is no right or wrong way to get a job done as long it is done to your liking.  Trial and error will accomplish this.

    The following is how I personally do mine along with many of my friends salmon with excellent results.


    Keep in mind a couple things when curing a product.

    1.  Contrary to popular belief, if your product is to salty, it may be that it was not brined long enough to equalize.  Meaning the salt and moisture in the product did not have enough time to combine.  It is my opinion that frozen fish will absorb the brine much better as the ice crystals formed during freezing allows for better equalization.

    2.  Freezing will help kill parasites, but bringing your product to a proper temperature for a proper length of time will kill them also.  Example, you can bring your salmon to a temperature of 160° for a few seconds or it can be brought to a temperature of 145° for 30 minutes with the same results. The later will produce a more moist product.

    Hope this helps.  Again by experimenting you will find what works best for you, like the others above have done for themselves.

    Have fun and enjoy.

  5. brayhaven

    brayhaven Fire Starter

     OK Tom, so you think these salty smoked salmon I'm getting is because I brine too little? (4 hrs) I tried again today with dry brine from the video and still too salty but not as bad as the wet brine.  Tried skin on & off.  the skin on wasnt as salty.  Also tried some cod which was also too salty.  Was thinking of trying a very thin coating, but I'd like a consistent method. The salmon I'm getting is pretty thin @ 1/4" or less filets.    

    I'm about to give up, but I'll try your recipe and see if that may be the problem.  Some brine recipes call for 1:1 sugar to salt ratio.  That must take a lot of beer to keep down :eek:).

    Any advice appreciated ...[​IMG]


    Wont throw these out.  The cat might eat em... :)
  6. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Wow, those are awfully thin fillets.  Seems more like used to make salmon jerky.  I can see how the brining time could be cut down.  Try a thicker fillet with the skin on 1" - 2".  I'm sure you will soon see the difference.

  7. brayhaven

    brayhaven Fire Starter

    Tom. I've been fishing for Salmon for years but haven't caught a one here in N Florida. Gotta take what I can buy. I catch plenty of fish. But like smoked salmon.
  8. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    What pics are you looking at?
  9. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member


    I wonder how one of your red's would smoke up?

  10. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member


    I was responding to brayhavens post #25  1/4 " fillets.

  11. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Don't see a link in #25 to a pic to what you are talking about.
  12. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member


    Was not looking at pics.  Just commented on his post.

  13. brayhaven

    brayhaven Fire Starter

    That's one of our main target fish. They're so good broiled I haven't tried smoking one yet. Want to get my technique down so I don't waste one. We only get to keep 2 per day in a narrow slot limit. Also want to try spotted sea trout. I'm thinking of using your brine and soaking then test for salt with a bite cooked in the microwave. What do u think?
  14. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks cmayna and bear.

    I understood that freezing fish or 3 - 4 weeks would kill any parasites.  But Bear just made the penny drop for me.  If fresh fish, always go to 160*.

    As far as wet brine vs. dry brine, I can't see much difference in texture.  So I'll probably go back to wet brining.  It took as much time to form pellicle using dry brine as it did wet brined.  And dry brining seems to be wet brining, after a few minutes anyway, plus it was messier when flipping pieces around.  LOL


    If I use a wet brine should I use the same 4 to 1 ratio, using all TQ?  Or should I use a certain amount of TQ plus some salt mixed to achieve the 1 ratio?
  15. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are not going to take the fish above 140 F (60 C) for at least 1 minute then freezing will certainly do the trick however depending on your freezer it should not take as long as 30 days.

    In the USA the Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guide recommends a temperature below -4 F (-20 C) for 7 days or -31 F (-35 C) (internal) for 15 hours to kill the parasites of concern (FDA 1998). 

    E.U. regulations require freezing at a temperature of no more than -4 F (-20 C) in all parts of the product for not less than 24 hours.
  16. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm currently eating smoked Salmon that is dated mid August which has been frozen since that date.  Next week I might dip into latter August inventory.  Guess I shouldn't encounter any of those little parasite critters.

  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It's been over 4 years since I researched it, but there were all kinds of temps & times on various websites, and most of them were shorter times, but lower temps. I picked the "Below Zero for 30 days or more", because I normally keep my meat freezer at minus 2*, and I had 19 whole fillets, so I knew 30 days wasn't going to be a problem. Also I doubt if I could get -31 F with my little chest Meat Freezer.

  18. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I didn't know your fillets were only 1/4" thick:

    I originally found my brine to be best with brining for 6 hours.

    Then I did some that were less than 1/2" thick that were a bit salty, so I made a note to brine over 1/2" for 6 hours, and under 1/2" for 4 hours.

    Using my Brine, I would probably brine pieces 1/4" or less for only 1 or 2 hours.

    With my brine, Thickness definitely makes a big difference.

  19. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    When using TQ, I use the same amount as TQ is a more pure salt and the results are supreme.

    Not being a big microwave fan other than heating water, I would suggest you fix the sample as you would the other.  You would then eliminate any guess work. 

    Being one who believes when wet brining,  once a product has reached 100% saturation it can't take on any more salt regardless the time in the brine as the brine salinity does not increase in time unless it is allowed to evaporate.  There are those who will disagree, but I have noticed that they are most likely not allowing 100% equalization to begin with and would most likely benefit buy cutting back on the salt to a more desirable salinity level.  Of course the thinner the product the less time it will take to reach 100% saturation / equalization.

    When smoking keep in mind that the more moisture that is removed from any brined or cured product will have more of a salty taste as although the moisture escapes during cooking, the salt minerals stay in the product meaning a dry product will have a much more salty taste than a moist product using the same brine recipe.  Again your taste preference will be determined by experience.

     Keep good notes on the strength of your brine by using a salameter (under $15), the thickness of your product, length of time in the brine and the temperature and time that it is cooked.  You will then soon find that all the guess work is eliminated and you will end up with a most desirable finished product that can be duplicated at any time.


  20. brayhaven

    brayhaven Fire Starter

    Thanks Tom. I'll try a weaker brine for a short time. As for the micro salt check. Not trying to get flavor. Just a quick salt test. A piece the size of a penny between paper towels cooks dries in @ 30 seconds. Hate to have to smoke that little piece for 6 hours to see if it's too salty. :) I see a lot of folks on here soak and even change the water to get the salt down. (After brining)
    Wife and I are not fond of heavy salt. My doc also told me to cut back. Marginal kidney function. Too much salt is never good for us older folks :)
    Thanks again for your help.

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