This recipe by Mike Stines creates a dry cure rub for fish; use instead of brining in preparation for smoking.
Use only fresh fish that has been kept clean and cold. Salmon are split with the backbone removed or filleted; bottom fish filleted; herring and smelts are headed and gutted. (Herring are also traditionally split for kippers.) Rinse the fish with running cold water to remove all traces of blood.
- 1/2 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
- Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well to combine. (This cure will keep in a closed container for six months.)
- Liberally apply the cure to both sides of the fish. Place in a non-reactive container and cover. Refrigerate for six to eight hours.
- After brining or curing, rinse the fish with cold running water.
- Place the fish skin side down on a cooling rack over a half sheet pan and refrigerate overnight allowing a pellicle to form on the surface. The pellicle, a sticky lacquer-like layer, will seal the surface and prevents loss of natural juices during smoking.
- Prepare the smoker for 150 degrees F. smoking and smoke the fish using the wood of your choice to an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. (Generally 1/2-inch pieces are smoked for an hour; one-inch pieces for two hours and 1 1/2-inch pieces for three hours.) Use an instant-read thermometer such as the Thermapen to assure the fish is properly cooked.
- Once the fish is smoked, wrap the cooled fish with plastic wrap. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week or frozen for up to six months.