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How to Smoke Salmon - Recipe #1
How to smoke salmon – recipe #1 intro
Preparing the fish
Preparing the dry brine
Brining the fish
Rinsing / drying the fish
Smoking the fish
Packaging the fish

Step 02 - Preparing the dry brine
This brine recipe is one of the simplest you will find. People tend to get crazy with all sorts of ingredients in their brines... white wine, tabasco sauce, paprika, apple juice... try them if you'd like, but I prefer a simple brine that I can memorize.

Here are the basics:
4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup non-iodized salt (canning & pickling or kosher salt)
10-15 cloves of garlic

I prefer dark brown sugar over light brown sugar because I like the color that the dark brown sugar imparts on the fish (a nice dark red), and I think it might taste a little different, too.

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For the salt, I use non-iodized canning salt. In the past I had used rock salt, and I would use 2 cups of rock salt to every 4 cups of sugar... but every once in a while, I would get a batch of smoked salmon that had a metallic taste. One day I mentioned this to a friend, and he asked me if I was using rock salt... he reminded me that rock salt has impurities in it, and that's probably what was giving me the metallic taste. As a result, I have now switched to canning salt, and the metallic tastes are gone. But, the canning salt is ground much finer than rock salt, so I've cut back to 1 cup of salt for every 4 cups of sugar.

click to enlarge

For the garlic, try to use fresh garlic, and run it through a garlic press... if you're like me, you hate to peel garlic... especially 10 or 15 cloves of it... that's OK, let your wife do it, just promise her you'll do something else. If you can't negotiate that, I have substituted dry garlic flakes (like the Frontier Herbs ones sold in bulk at QFC). In this case, I use about 1 teaspoon for every clove, or about 10 teaspoons total. You could also try using the chopped garlic sold in a jar, or dry garlic powder, but I haven't had much luck with these... they have a different, more bitter taste, and aren't as potent.

click to enlarge

Put it all in a big bowl, and mix it all together. OK... so you're asking, "How much fish will this recipe handle?" Well, that depends on how heavily you cover your fish... to tell you the truth, I usually just keep a bunch of ingredients on hand... I mix up a batch of brine using the measurements above, then I start covering my fish, and if I need more dry brine, I just quickly mix up another partial batch.

How to smoke salmon – recipe #1 intro
Preparing the fish
Preparing the dry brine
Brining the fish
Rinsing / drying the fish
Smoking the fish
Packaging the fish