08 June 2022
Tips for salting
How to salt fish, meat and poultry in the Big Green Egg.
Do you ever salt your meat, fish or poultry before preparing it in the Big Green Egg or do you only do this if a recipe specifies it? Salting meat, fish or poultry before you prepare it in the Big Green Egg can enhance your own recipes too! It is much more than just a way to preserve food. In many cases, salting can add a great flavour boost to your meat, fish or poultry!
Meat, fish and poultry were traditionally salted to preserve these products and increase their shelf life. Thanks to modern cooling techniques, we don’t need to salt food for preservation, but salting also has a number of other effects. The most important? A delicious flavour!
Salt, sugar & flavourings
To salt food, you will need salt and usually a little sugar and other flavourings. Last but not least, you will need meat, fish or poultry. There are two ways of salting foods: dry and wet. Both methods ensure extra flavour and preservation, but dry salting draws moisture out of the product to enhance the flavour whereas brining (wet salting) adds extra moisture for more flavour. You can choose one of these methods, depending on what you want to do.
EGG owners probably use the dry salting method, also known as curing, less often than the wet salting method. Dry salting is usually used to cure ham and you don’t need a kamado to do this. But if you are planning to cold smoke salmon in your Big Green Egg, dry smoking is an essential part of the process. Cold smoking of salmon is not a cooking process: you do it to add extra flavour. Therefore, it is important to salt the product to draw out the moisture and inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. Moisture is a good breeding ground for micro-organisms. Drawing the moisture out of the product increases the salt content and causes the proteins to coagulate, making the structure of the fish flesh firmer.
How much salt do you need for dry salting?
You can also dry salt duck legs before confitting them in goose fat in your EGG. In addition to the extra flavour from the added salt and preparation in the Big Green Egg, drawing the moisture out of the meat ensures that the duck legs soak up more goose fat and taste even better. For dry salting, you usually allow a ratio of two parts salt to one part sugar, and you can add extra flavourings such as garlic, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and coriander seeds. Important: make sure that you cover the product completely with the salt.
How long does dry salting take?
The exact salting time depends on the thickness of the product. For example: salting a side of salmon will take about 12 hours in the fridge. Afterwards, rinse the fish under cold running water. Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper and leave it to dry in the fridge for 24 hours and then smoke it for 10 hours. Drying the fish is an important part of the process because the smoke will not cling so well if the product is wet. The smoky flavour is very intense after the smoking process, so you should vacuum pack or wrap the the salmon in cling film and put it in the fridge for another 48 hours before slicing it. For large pieces of meat, you should usually allow one day per kilogramme for salting.
Brining (wet salting)
Brining is mainly done to add extra flavour to meat, fish and poultry and to make these products more tender and juicier. Generally speaking, you normally wet salt larger pieces of poultry and prepare them later low and slow in your Big Green Egg. The meat has a nicer colour, especially if you use colour salt. This gives pork, for example, a beautiful pink colour.
How to prepare brine
Making brine is really very easy. Add 60 g salt for fish to 80 g salt for meat and poultry to 1 litre water. This makes a saline solution of 6-8%. The easiest way is to heat up a little of the water with the salt and a pinch of sugar until dissolved. Next, remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the cold water and the other flavourings such as garlic, juniper berries, cloves, cardamom, mace, thyme and bay leaves. You can experiment with these flavourings to your heart’s content. If you would like to use a rub after salting your meat or poultry, opt for a salt-free rub and try using the flavourings that are used in the brine. A rub stays on the surface whereas a brine is absorbed right to the very centre of the product if you brine it for long enough.
How long does brining take?
After the brine has cooled down, put the product you want to brine in a suitable dish or bowl. Do not use a metal dish or bowl because the salt solution could react to the metal. Ensure that your product is entirely covered by the brine and put the dish or bowl in the fridge. The time needed for brining varies from 1 hour for fish to several days for large pieces of meat. This depends on the structure of the fish flesh and the thickness of the meat or fish. For example: it takes 7 days to brine pastrami. Once you have completed the brining process a few times, you will be able to make an educated guess.
Baking in de Big Green Egg
When in doubt, brine your product for a shorter rather than a longer time, otherwise your end result may be much too salty. Try removing large pieces from the brine a bit earlier and leaving them covered for another day in the fridge to give the brine time to soak into the centre of the meat. That way, nothing can go wrong and brining always turns out well. Finished brining? Fire up the charcoal in the Big Green Egg, pat the meat, fish or poultry dry and prepare it just as you want in the EGG. You won’t need to worry about flavour or succulence thanks to the combination of brining and your Big Green Egg!
Want to find out more about brining? We have selected a number of recipes especially for you.
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