It is time I gave my new MES the proper Alaskan break in.......smoked salmon. Here is what I did this time around. 1 cup brown sugar 2 bay leaves crushed 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper 3 tablespoons black pepper ½ cup soy sauce ½ cup salt 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 Tablespoons garlic powder 8 cups water. Mix the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl (I use Tupperware) and set aside while you prepare the fish. These are red salmon (aka Sockeye) caught from the Kasilof river last summer. Notice that I left the belly on the fillet. Many guys do not use the salmon bellies, but let me tell you.....IT IS THE BEST PART OF THE FISH! Do not let me catch you throwing out salmon bellies! I have four fillets total. I also save the collars for grilling, but that is another post coming this summer. I cut off the belly (it is the bottom part of the fillet on the bottom), and then cut the rest of the fish into 1/2 inch strips. I do not cut the belly any smaller, just leave it whole as it is not very thick. This belly is full of fat and will make melt in your mouth salmon jerky. Think I gained 3 pounds just typing that out. Yes, it is that good. All sliced up and into the brine. Notice the whole belly on the right side. Yes I leave the little fin on the belly. Why? Because my momma did it that way and it gives you something to hold onto while enjoying a little slice of salmon heaven. I then take a heavy plate and weigh down the fish to keep it under the brine. Cover and place in the fridge for 12-18 hours. Give it a stir about half way through to ensure the spices get mixed into the fish well. I will continue tomorrow with the drying and smoking phase. Stay tuned.