View Full Version : Salmon to brine or not to brine

11-18-2005, 07:35 PM
Guys, I am going to smoke a salmon steak this wknd and I plan to use Jim's recipe. I noticed he doesnt brine it like in Randy's recipe. I also noticed that Jim's recipe leans more towards grilling it rather than smoking. There is just a quick sentence at the end about smoking: "You can also smoke it at lower temps of 225-250*F; this allows for more smoke on the fillets."

I am wanting to smoke the salmon but I trust Jim more than my own abilities. Should I grill the salmon as per Jims recipe? Or is there more info available for smoking (such as times) using Jim's 2 rubs instead of Randy's brine?

11-18-2005, 08:03 PM
Ive done both.... My Personal preference. I like the grilled better. i grill over low heat so it gets some smoke, but i like the texture better when its grilled.

i do it simple. Rub with lemon pepper and Dill. Grill it... brushing lightly with balsamic vinegar with little butter melted in it.

11-18-2005, 08:05 PM
Lip smackin good. Cant wait. Thanks Phil

11-18-2005, 08:07 PM
I recommend brining. I smoke the salmon on the top rack of the bandera at about 200- 225 degrees. I do not cook it very long. I generally watch it pretty closely. Not like other things that you close the smoker and let go for long periods. I like a brown sugar brine (good to add some jalapeno powder to the brine). This gives the outside a sweet taste and insite is moist. It is easy to over cook.
Good luck! Stan

11-18-2005, 10:20 PM
I agree with Stan. If you are going to smoke the salmon, then brine. If you are going to grill it, then don't brine. I you want to minimize the fishy taste, you can soak the fish in milk for an hour before grilling.

I like salmon both ways. Smoked salmon is great served cold with cracker or toast points.

11-18-2005, 10:21 PM
I think the less you do to a salmon the better it tastes. Lemon pepper and dill sounds scrumptious.

11-19-2005, 03:48 AM
If I'm going to have salmon for dinner I grill it. If I want to have some in the fridge to snack on or use for an appetizer, I smoke it. Smoked gets the brine and grilling doesn't.

11-19-2005, 06:33 AM
I think Neil's is the best advice. I like grilled salmon, and I like it for din din. Ive had smoked salmon before and Im not crazy about it. My wife is on a smoked salmon kick and has been requesting it.

The question I'll have to answer is: do we want a big fillet for din din or do I want to experiement on a big appetizer for just the 2 of us. I think you can see which way Im leaning.

The other factor here is keeping mama happy.

11-19-2005, 07:49 AM
Remember that "smoked" salmon is different from Q'd salmon. smoked is cold-smoked (it's awesome when done right, but not Q-smoked). Grilled is everything else. Hoo's got it down... the less you mess with it the better it is. Q it at about 300-350 (or grill it), only takes an hour and you get plenty of smoke and you don't dry it out. my favorite is just butter, lemon, salt and pepper.

RonL- if you have to get rid of "fishy" taste you got some skanky salmon and it's only good for cold-smoking, but it would be better for fertilizer under your roses. :)

11-19-2005, 08:26 AM
I lay a whole side of Salmon in an aluminum pan. Cover lightly with Olive Oil and spread on my favorite seasoning. Pour a little wine in the pan and smoke at 200-225 for about 3-4 hours. Save some for Smoked Salmon Mousse.

11-19-2005, 08:50 AM
I've had fresh caught (by me) salmon and steelhead, in the peak of the season, early in the run, that tasted fishy. The truth is that the fishy taste is in the fat and the fatter the fish the stronger it tastes (Although chinook salmon will taste fishier than coho and coho stronger than steelhead.)

We used to fillet all our steelhead and slamon and cut all traces of the "black" (dark greyish pink) fat off the nearly flourescent orange meat. A great deal of it will accumulate in the and around the "lateral line"--the indentation that runs down the length of the fish (said to be essential for the fish's balance). Once the fat is cut away (and be sure to dicard the fatty belly area too), the fish will not taste fishy at all...guaranteed.

Now if I'm grilling a salmon on cedar or alder, I try to keep the skin side down on the theory that the fats will run out of the fish and not into the flesh. Frankly, no fish short of halibut moves me enough for it to be a menu item of choice but if I were to do salmon or steelhead, my druthers would be to fillet it, cut the fat off, roll it in breadcrumbs and pan fry it in a bit of oil and butter. Serve with lemon wedges. Hmmm-mmmh! Actually, just thinking about it makes me kind of hanker for it.

11-19-2005, 09:09 AM
I usually take the side of salmon that costco sells, put it on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with old bay seasoning and smoke at around 275 till its flakey. Perfect.

11-19-2005, 01:11 PM
Oh yeah. Simple and delicious. Thats my style. We're steaming shrimp and snaps tonight (also gonna have a few Coronas - maybe I can get some of that nasal spray for mama...wink)

I'll do the salmon fillet tomorrow. Thanks for all of the good advice.

11-19-2005, 04:07 PM
Let us know which is better, the salmon or mama. Just remember, no lemon pepper on mama!

11-19-2005, 06:58 PM
I dont know, Sounds a little kinky. I'd be up for it.

11-19-2005, 07:29 PM
We did shrimp scampi tonight. Dam that was good. Poured it over white rice. I also steamed some snaps and we had a couple of Coronas. Good times.

Tomorrow I plan to do the salmon. After much deliberation I have decided to smoke it. Ive got everything I need for the brine and I plan to hot smoke at 275.

11-20-2005, 12:58 PM
Ok, slight change of plans again. Ive decided to go with Jim's recipe and dry rub (or Kosher) the salmon before smoking. And I am going to smoke it and not grill it.

One possible problem. Wifey farked up and got a skinless fillet. Any forseeable problems here? Im thinking that I should lay it on a sheet of foil while in the smoker. And other pointers for a skinless fillet?

Paola Greg
11-20-2005, 02:30 PM
Photo practice. I brined my salmon, it's been on 8 hrs, cheese 1 hr. 3 more hrs to go at 'bout 80 degrees on the WSM.

11-20-2005, 02:46 PM
Photo practice. I brined my salmon, it's been on 8 hrs, cheese 1 hr. 3 more hrs to go at 'bout 80 degrees on the WSM.
How do you keep your WSM at 80*? Just light 6 briquettes?

11-20-2005, 02:48 PM
Smoked cheese. Yummy.

Ok. Time to rinse the dry rub off now and light the Dera.

Cover me, Im goin in.

Think I'll throw in a few whole garlic bulbs in there to boot.

11-20-2005, 04:23 PM
Check this out. 2 Double bastards. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Note salmon with Jim's finishing rub ready for the Dera.

Paola Greg
11-20-2005, 04:34 PM
How do you keep your WSM at 80*? Just light 6 briquettes?

Yep Rich, started with 6 briquets(only lit 2) and 1 chunk of apple. Added only apple after that as needed. I've done this before with ice and water in the pan for 3 hrs with cheese, and it wasn't too bad maintaining the temp. Today, I didn't want any moisture added to the salmon, so the water pan was empty. It took quite a bit more attention to the vents, etc. But basically I was able to maintain a temp from 70 to 90 degrees. I've never cold smoked salmon, will be anxious to try it.


11-20-2005, 06:24 PM
Ok, final update. Between my wife & I we had 2 very different opinions. First my wife loved the salmon. She scarfed down 2 plates full. (Im hoping this means sex). I found it too sweet. There was a lot of brown sugar in the recipe. The only variation I made from Jim's recipe was I added 1 tsp of Old Bay. Next time I may just do lemon & butter & pepper in the final "rub".

Dont get me wrong, it was really good. I had 2 helpings myself but I didnt have as much as my wife. She was absolutly crazy about it.

This was also the first time I tried a briquette only fire and I had a hard time getting above 225*. I dont have a fire basket yet but that will soon change. My temp stayed between 200 & 225 and I had a small cast iron box filled with alder in the coals.

11-21-2005, 06:03 AM
"(Im hoping this means sex)."

Knowing how ulgy you are she needed both beers too!

11-21-2005, 02:25 PM
Ouch. That hurt brother. If she drank even part of 1 of those beers I could have gotten lucky for sure. But Im sure it would be considered a crime in VA. She'd be comotose. Thats some seriously strong beer. Double Bastard!!