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[*] posted on 10-6-2016 at 07:32 PM
Brine recipe

Does anyone have a good recipe for making a very spicy brine solution for smoking Bonito?

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[*] posted on 10-6-2016 at 07:57 PM

I'm no expert, but I tried various things to add to a brine for spicy smoking and nothing did much for it. What I started doing last year was smearing on a little sriracha sauce on the brined fish before popping it into the smoker. I'll certainly monitor this thread for new tips, I like it spicy.
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[*] posted on 10-6-2016 at 08:14 PM

You might find a brine recipe here,
He also has a form at the bottom of the page to email him your question.

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[*] posted on 10-6-2016 at 08:26 PM

I like one part Montreal steak seasoning and 4 or 5 (depending on how sweet you like it) parts brown sugar roll the fish in it and put into a zip loc bag and refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours. Don't add any liquid to the bag the liquid will come out of the fish and within a few hours the bag will all liquid.

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[*] posted on 10-6-2016 at 09:09 PM

Quote: Originally posted by larryC  
I like one part Montreal steak seasoning and 4 or 5 (depending on how sweet you like it) parts brown sugar roll the fish in it and put into a zip loc bag and refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours. Don't add any liquid to the bag the liquid will come out of the fish and within a few hours the bag will all liquid.

Now, THAT's interesting. But maybe not as spicy as some of us would like it. MSS derives MOST (but not all) of its heat from black pepper.

Maybe mix a little adobe sauce with the brown sugar?
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[*] posted on 10-8-2016 at 06:18 AM

a super simple brine i have used is equal parts soy sauce and brown sugar
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[*] posted on 10-8-2016 at 07:49 AM

Smoked Yellowtail with Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar Brine
• 5 Packages of yellowtail fillets, most of the fillets I used were very thin.
• 8 cups COLD water (2 quarts)
• 1.5 ounces (43 grams) of Insta Cure # 1. Usage of cure is 3 ounces (85 grams) to each gallon of water.
• 2 cups Kikkoman soy sauce
• 2 cups brown sugar
• 28 grams of fresh garlic (12 cloves)
• 53 grams of fresh ginger (one large 5 inch long piece)

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[*] posted on 10-8-2016 at 10:27 PM

A brine is a process where you use salt water and sometimes sugar to "open" the proteins and add moisture to the protein. This is done with a dry rub "s"alt with or without sugar. A wet brine is salt, water, sugar or salt and water.
Spice is aded as a dry rub or a wet rub. Rubs are added usally added before or as the protein is going on the smoker.
I like to brine for 6 plus hours, 24 is a nice number. I use equal parts salt and sugar to water.
1/2 cup salt 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 gal water.
Brine for 6-48 hours.
Pull from the frig. Wash. Pat dry Let dry completely until is kinda shiny. maybe 45 min to a hour. I put a fan on it to dry the exposed meat.

While that's drying : Mix 3/4 cup drk. brown sugar.
1/2 cup water.
1/4 cup Tapio sauce.
1/8 teriyaki sauce
Black pepper and salt to taste.
add Cayenne and other peppers to the spice I like.
This will do 3 to 4 fish fillets to 20 lbs per fish

Heat the smoker to 225 to 250. Smoke for 2 to 3 hours. I put the fish on and smoke for 30 mins. then I mop the fish every 1/2 hour while it smokes. The mop will be a bit sticky when done.
You can leave off the wet mop and wet rub with the above without the water leave on the smoker for 2+ hours.
I prefer to smoke over almond or oak.

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[*] posted on 10-8-2016 at 11:01 PM

Quote: Originally posted by pacificobob  
a super simple brine i have used is equal parts soy sauce and brown sugar

thats always worked for me, a little fish flavor never hurt either :yes:
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[*] posted on 4-1-2017 at 09:03 AM

After many experiments, I have settled on the recipe below. I like thin cuts of smoked fish best. My favorite pieces of the finished product are the almost paper thin dried up pieces as they become "fish jerky". My recipe isn't heavy on the flavorings because, unlike most people, I like the distinct flavor of different types of smoked fish. Too much of any flavoring and you overly mask the flavor of the fish, IMO.

No matter how much I make using this recipe, all the fish is gone in three days. The whole trick was getting the amount of salt just right and that's what took me a lot of experimentation to get right. Its a function of how much salt goes into the brine recipe and how long you soak the fish in the brine. Get one or both wrong and you've got a problem.

Brine for 3 lbs of fish:
1 qt Water
2.5 fluid oz Salt
3 tsp Brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Clove Garlic finely sliced
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
Brine thin slivers for 4 mins, ¼-inch thick filets for 7 minutes, 1/3-inch filets for 10 mins, ½-inch fillets for 20 mins, 2/3 inch fillets for27 mins. Rinse the fish briefly with fresh water, pat dry.

Now, let the brined fish air out for 3 hours. Use a small fan set on low to circulate the air a bit. Also, it helps to use some kind of rack to suspend the fish to let the air hit the fish from above and below. This airing process develops a "pellicle" on the fish that holds the smoke flavor in just the right way.

I smoke the fish with a 30 year old electric "Little Chief" at about 135-150 F. The inside temp of the smoker differs with the outside temperature of the environment. I don't smoke on cold days. Change the wood chips about every 45 minutes.

Smoking time depends on 3 things: 1) the average internal temp of the smoker 2) how dry or moist you like your smoked fish 3) thickness of the pieces. So, it can be anywhere from 1-1/2 hours to 5 hours to get the job done.

The best policy is to use your own judgment based on your preference of fish moisture (or lack thereof) of the final product. Look at the fish briefly every 30 minutes.

TIP: Try putting a lot of fresh cracked pepper on several pieces just before putting in the smoker, especially the thin pieces. It will be a crowd pleaser.

[Edited on 4-1-2017 by MitchMan]
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[*] posted on 4-1-2017 at 09:36 AM

Quote: Originally posted by boe4fun  
Does anyone have a good recipe for making a very spicy brine solution for smoking Bonito?

I prefer to use bonito for bait and save the brine for smoking the fish I catch with it.

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[*] posted on 4-1-2017 at 09:42 AM

who knew there were so many cooks out there? My mouth is simply watering right now.

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[*] posted on 4-1-2017 at 09:42 AM

Weebray's got it...

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[*] posted on 4-2-2017 at 06:59 AM

What kind of fish do you mean by "bonito"? My favorite is the Mexican (Striped) bonito with delicate pink flesh that makes the best sashimi I've ever had.

Then comes the Pacific bonito, with greyish white flesh not nearly as good. Probably good in a smoker.

Then comes the bloody-fleshed black skipjack, or barrilete, that would take more than brine and smoke to make tasty.

It's meat has an odor i find disagreeable, although it makes decent machaca when lightly salted, dried, simmered, drained and cooked again with chiles, onions, etc.

The barrilete is the most common, of course!
Better for bait or dog food than smoking.
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[*] posted on 4-2-2017 at 12:04 PM

FWIW, Pacific bonito if bled and fileted immediately after catching, will taste really good and cook up absolutely white and almost flaky. If you catch it, then don't clean it for several hours it will look and taste like red mackerel meat. Huge difference if bled and fileted right away.
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[*] posted on 4-2-2017 at 12:55 PM

This is a copy of the various responses I got when posting a similar question regarding a very simple Brinkman smoker I picked up at a yard sale a few years ago, hope it helps. I too am not a fan of brining, I like the dry-rub method but each to their own:

I smoke fish in Baja all the time - use the KISS method - keep it simple...
a. Filet the fish - yellowtail, bonito, dorado, or grouper - leave skin on -
b. soak in marinade of your choice - 2 hours - teryaki etc
c. smoke for a minimum of 2 hours (depending on how often you tend the fire with fresh, wet wood chips)
d. eat with crackers and pepperjack cheese, beer or marguarita
e. done
You have the same unit I Have, I take brown sugar, salt, Teriyaki Mix it together thick is best put it in ziplock with fish overnight. In the firebowl I start mesquite charcoal when its started I put 3/4 chunks green mesquite, then waterbowl above, then fish on rack, for me 6-8 hrs. The best fish for me is Sierra, Tuna.
I am not a brine fan. I will smoke just about anything that I can, last year 600# of tuna. (Good fishing trip!) The brinkman is a hassle to cold smoke on. To cold smoke the temp should be about 150 to 160 max. and it takes 6 to 8 hours to finish the meat. Some times longer if it's cold outside. If you want to tend the smoker for that long and manage the charcoal have fun. I use a gas smoker and manage the smoke via a smoke box.
Hot smoking will work on most fish and is very easy to do. The smoker should be about 225 to 250. It will take apx. 3 to 4 hours to finish the product, depends thickness of the meat. There are a bunch of dry rubs out on the net check out All Coast andBloody Decks. Dry rubbing the meat will add taste to to product as will mopping it. I mop with thick a maple syrup, brown sugar, pepper, and tapio mix. It's a sweet and sour/hot mop,it goes on after the first hour and is mopped every 20 min after that.
Start playing around with what ever sounds good to you and then change 1 thing at a time until you get what you want as a finished product. Taking notes and keeping the process the same will help you perfect the end product. I did some very good yellow tail that I can't recreate again. Wet smoking will add some flavor and slow the drying process down
We wrap in plastic and vacuum seal the product and bit will hold for about 9 months to a year. It's always best right off the smoker.
I use nut woods and fruit woods or the smoke. Stay away from walnut and other harsh wood.
This is a old way to keep meat from going bad, the smoke and the brine were to help the preserving process, Now we smoke for flavor.
I have to look at the ethnic stores to find the powdered Teriyaki. An Arabic Food Store in Anaheim carries the Kim's Asian brand that I like.

Generic Dry Cure Recipes


Mix 3 parts brown sugar to 1 part non-iodized salt together in a bowl. Add 1 package of dry teriyaki marinade and mix into salt sugar mixture. Layer fillets in a deep non-metallic pan. Rub each fillet lightly with the cure mix and then cover each layer generously with more dry mixture.

Cover and place in refrigerator or ice chest for 18 to 24 hours. The mixture will draw moisture out of the fish, creating it's own liquid brine. Rinse lightly, pat dry, and set out on paper towels to air-dry for about 1 hour. I cover mine with some fly-stopping screens from my camp kitchen.

See below for more info on drying your fish.


Drying Your Fish
After the fish has been cured, using either brine or dry cure methods, it must be allowed to dry before smoking. This critical step allows a pellicle, or glaze, to form on the skin to keep moisture in and contaminants out. The pellicle also provides a good surface for the smoke to adhere to, giving your smoked fish both its smoky flavor and uniform color.

How to Dry Fish. Rinse the fish in cool running water and pat dry with paper towels and place skin side down in a cool shady spot. If you place your fish on your smoker racks to dry, you can save some time later.

The fish should have plenty of air circulation space all around to ensure even drying. A small fan will help speed up the drying process. The fish is dried and ready for the smoker when the pellicle forms on the surface.

Q: How do I know when the pellicle has formed?
A: When a shiny and tacky (sticky) skin has formed on the fish.

Drying time depends on the moisture content of the fish, the temperature, amount of air flow, and the relative humidity in the surrounding air. The pellicle should be formed usually in about an hour – the time can vary depending on the factors above.
This is what gives some smoked fish that golden or red sheen.
Fishabductor: Bring along your own wood, I brought down 60# of Alder pellets, 20# of Apple wood, and 20# of cherry wood. the smoke flavor comes from the wood, not the brine. Don't use mesquite for smoking is way too strong and is best with red meats and chicken.

Cold smoke if possible by getting the fish far from the heat source, or it will cook rather than cure.

For a brine, I use Soy sauce, orange juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt(iodine) white/brown sugar, a little seafood seasoning and red pepper flakes if you like a little kick. The brine should taste strong. All ingredients need to be added before the brine is brought to a boil, and then cooled to room temp. For best results the fish should be frozen overnight and then thawed and placed in the brine. the freezing breaks down the flesh and creates a better consistency.

My family is a commercercial fishing family from WA(1960-1970's) and AK for over 3 decades and have used this mix for the majority of it. I like to experiment with it at times but the base is always the same.

remember don't soak the fish too long or it will be extremely salty..a couple hours for 2" fillets and about 45min for 1" fillets will suffice. I have used this recipe of salmon(all 5) steelhead, croakers, sierra, dorado, tuna as well as halibut.

Once again Bring a good supply of quality wood, if you have a fruit tree at home trim off some branches and bring them with'll be glad you did!!

Bob Derrill’s recipe: yellow tail is about the only thing I smoke since i don't have salmon in baja and good tuna is too good raw.

i always brine first using 50/50 mix of salt (don't use kosher; it's too strong) and brown sugar injust enough water to dissolve it. brine time depends on thickness of fillet; 1-2 hours for less than 1" thick and 3-6 hours for thicker. never overnight unless you are a real salt freak. remove from brine, rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

then low and slow in my brinkman charcol smoker:
1) fill bottom with charcoal (i use mesquite chunks) light and and let coals burn down until ash is formed
2) throw on good handfull or two of mesquite or hickory chips that have been soaked in water for at least 2 hours
3) fill water pan with plain H2O and assemble rest of smoker (water helps keep temperature low and adds moisture)
4) put thickest fillets on bottom rack and others on top rack leaving good air space around them
5) watch temp gauge and keep it below 120 by regulating air intake
6) after about 1 hour, open door add 1 or 2 more chunks of charcoal and throw in another handfull of wood chips
7) repeat step 6 five more times (about 6 hours total) then let charcoal burn out and remove fillets after 8 hors.
8) let fillets dry in air for about 1 hour before vacuum sealing.

WORKS FOR ME EVERY TIME. never dried out and perfectly smoked
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