Brined Smoked Salmon and Steelhead Recipe

January 8, 2019

Brined Smoked Salmon

Great Lakes steelhead/salmon can be one of the most fun fish to catch on a fly rod or conventional tackle. They can also make great table fare if prepared in the correct manner. Though fresh fish can be prepared in a number of ways, one of my favorite ways is brined and smoked. The brine penetrates the fish fillets and infuses great flavor throughout the meat. The smoke flavor and salt content reduces any “fishy” taste that may otherwise come through. Though simple salt brines can yield great results, I prefer this brine recipe that has been passed down from family and friends in my local area to make excellent smoked fish (this brine can also be used for poultry and a variety of other meats).

Fish Brine
- ½ gallon water
- ½ gallon apple juice
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- hot pepper flakes to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a glass or plastic bowl. Stir until the ingredients are completely blended. Add fish fillets with the skin on, and submerge in the brine. Allow the fish to marinate for at least 24 hours, stirring every few hours to keep the fish equally submerged. Afterward, remove from brine and pat dry before placing it on the racks of your smoker. Bradley Smokers are perfect for making quality smoked products, whether fish, poultry, or meat. They are extremely easy to use and their consistent temperature delivery makes it easy for anyone to create a quality product.

Once your fish is placed on the racks of the smoker, set the temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and allow the fish to cook for roughly 2 hours. I prefer to use a 50/50 mix of apple and alder wood in the smoker, but most fruit woods or lighter tasting smoke-producing wood will work perfectly. The surface of the meat will look dry and the fish will flake from the skin when it is done. For the last 10 minutes of the smoking process, I like to take ½ cup of honey mixed with 1 tbsp black pepper and heat it in the microwave or on the stove. By taking a BBQ brush, I brush the honey mixture over the surface of the fillets and allow them to cook on high heat for the last 10 minutes. This adds a sweet and spicy glaze full of flavor to the meat.

Serve this smoked fish chilled with crackers and your favorite dips and spreads. If vacuum packed, this fish will stay fresh in the freezer for over a year. This delicious recipe can be used with any type of fish, but trout/steelhead/salmon are the best suited. When smoking smaller fish such as trout or smaller steelhead, the whole fish can be brined and smoked, rather than just the fillets

About the Author
Chris RosellaChris RosellaErie, PA

Chris Rosella is the Marketing Intern at FishUSA. An avid all-around fisherman, his true passion is chasing smallmouth bass. Chris is often found at the stream or lake in his free time.

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