Brining Meats And Fish

Brining Meats And Fish

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These are shrimp that were put in brine for 5 minutes. This was great! I am so excited! The shrimp were juicy and the flavor was exciting. I currently associate flavorful shrimp with a multi-colored translucent shell and a clean smell of seafood. I used to eat shrimp in Las Vegas when I was young. They had a lot of flavor. I had shrimp from the Gulf this year that had great flavor. These shrimp had great flavor. Brining these shrimps made them more exciting to eat.

Here is a discussion on brining. Chef Thomas Keller [1][2] says that an herb infused brine makes meat more juicy and gives meat a “wonderful aromatic” flavor. He brines meat for several hours, but he only brines fish for a couple of minutes. I assumed these shrimp were fish. Supposedly, brining fish will eliminate the appearance of coagulated proteins when cooking fish. I have observed coagulated proteins appear on fish while poaching fish. Brining uses osmosis [1][2] to carry sodium and the flavor of herbs inside the meat. I learned about osmosis in a biology class. Osmosis probably explains how sodium travels though a cell membrane, and why the sodium concentrations inside a cell, and surrounding a cell are equal.

Molly Stevens prefers to dry salt meat. She calls brining wet salting. She learned about dry salting in San Francisco. Thomas Keller may be from Northern California. Osmosis [1 osmosis][2 diffusion][3 concentration gradients] is similar in both techniques, but dry salting does not add liquid to the meat. She says that dry salted meat has the appearance of dry aged beef.  She suggests that adding liquid makes meat bland by diluting the flavor of the meat. After about 12 hours, the salt completely disappears. Because of osmosis, sodium and the flavor of any surrounding spices travel through the meat.  Both agree that salted meat loses less juice while cooking because cooked salted meat weighs significantly more than cooked unsalted meat. Molly Stevens uses the word hydroscopic to describe how sodium attracts water. The hydroscopic property of sodium prohibits juices from leaving the meat during the cooking process. The word hydroscopic and hygroscopic may describe the same observations.

My brine may have been too salty. I used a ratio of (5 cups water : 1 tablespoon Diamond Kosher salt). I will have to experiment to know what I believe. Diamond Kosher salt supposedly has a lower density than Morton Kosher salt, less mass per volume, and Diamond Kosher salt lacks an anti-caking agent. If this is true, recipes designed for using Diamond Kosher salt may require less Morton Kosher salt.

I put the shrimp in brine for 5 minutes. Then, I sautéed them in butter, white wine, and lemon juice. I added more salt. I am not certain if adding more salt was necessary. Maybe adding more salt would be exciting if my brine was less salty since the salt may add an intense flavor. I removed the shrimp with tongs after a minute and I reduced the sauce. I poured the sauce over the shrimp.

1. Thomas Keller: ad hoc at home (New York: Artisan, 2009), 75, 399.

2. Molly Stevens: All About Roasting (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011), 26 – 29.

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