Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author
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How to Make Salmuera. Variations. Best Uses.

www.marybethclark.com

Salmuera is Argentina's favorite basting sauce for grilling meats outdoors. A simple brine flavored with garlic and bay leaf, it is integral to the "grill experience" as it bastes and flavors the meat. With a bottle of salmuera in one hand…splash…the cook flips the meat with the other hand…splash.

Ribs, steak, and salmuera were made for one another but experiment. Traditionally applied to beef, lamb, and pork, I tried it with poultry and fish, and it's great! Ditto cooking methods, try it for broiling and roasting methods, too. Other herbs, citrus, nuts, and hot peppers can be added to the basic brine. With Urfa Biber (Isot Biber or Isot Peppers) so incredibly popular, I added it to salmuera for a spicy twist (photo above). Recipes are written below to inspire you to create your own special blend.
 

The Basics:
* Basic ingredients are water, salt, and raw garlic.
Begin with good-tasting water that pleases you. For a sweeter- tasting brine, use cool water. For a strong brine that can become slightly bitter, use hot water or bring water to a boil, remove from the heat, and immerse the flavorings in the water.
Mineral-rich sea salt, Himalayan salt, or grey salt tend to have higher sodium content than other salt types. Research what is best for you.
Garlic cloves can be whole with/out peel, sliced, chopped, minced, grated. Remember that small to tiny-sized garlic pieces can burn during cooking, so it is better to add more peeled whole garlic cloves or thick slices for a stronger flavor.
* Usually add bay leaf.
Fresh leaves are fragrant and preferable to dry brittle leaves.
* Can add sturdy herbs with strong aromatics.
Focus on one herb or add more than one to the brine. Traditionally, rosemary, thyme, and oregano are among the best herbs to use. The oregano is particularly effective in this brine. Although non-traditional, za'atar gives a most interesting herbal note.
* Can add citrus zest.
* Can add nuts without their bitter skins.
* Can add dried chili peppers, peppercorns, Urfa Biber (Isot Biber or Isot Pepper), Aleppo pepper.
Usually emphasize one type of pepper's flavor rather than mixing them.
* For optimum full-flavor results, chill salmuera for 1 to 2 days before using.

Ratio:
* Initially, it is easiest to use volume for measuring salt since every salt has its own weight as well as flavor. Usually fine or coarse salt or flakes are used to make this brine. Experiment with different salts.
* If making salmuera for the first time, 1 tablespoon (15 ml volume) salt per 1 cup (8 ounces or 237 ml) water makes a very good moderate-salty brine suitable for all ingredients.
* For saltier, use 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 ml volume) salt per 1 cup (8 ounces or 237 ml) water.
* Some cooks just pour salt into a container, then pour water on top. Other cooks do the same, add a raw egg, and when it floats on top of the water, it's all good. (Pucker up, it is very salty!)
 

Basic Salmuera: Adjust flavorings as you wish
1 tablespoon (15 ml volume) salt
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 cup (8 ounces or 237 ml) cool water

Basic Salmuera with Lemon, Fresh Herbs, and Urfa Biber (Isot Biber or Isot Pepper): Adjust flavorings as you wish
1 tablespoon (15 ml volume) sea salt
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
4 small strips fresh lemon peel
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 generous pinches crushed Urfa Biber (Isot Biber or Isot Pepper)
1 cup (8 ounces or 237 ml) cool water

Basic Salmuera with Almonds, Citrus, Fresh Herbs, and Hot Pepper: Adjust flavorings as you wish
1 tablespoon (15 ml volume) sea salt
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
8 whole peeled almonds
2 small strips fresh lemon or Meyer lemon peel
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 dried long hot red chili pepper or crushed Aleppo pepper
1 cup (8 ounces or 237 ml) cool water
 

Pour salt into a clean glass jar or bottle. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and other solid ingredients such as lemon peel, herbs, pepper. Pour in the cool water. Cover the container and invert it to distribute the salt, then set it upright. Leave at room temperature for an hour or two until the salt dissolves.

Some cooks use salmuera within one hour of combining ingredients or the same day. However, I find it too bland at this point. There is nothing better than chilling salmuera for 1 to 2 days before using. (And it tastes much better than adding the ingredients to boiled hot water which is supposed to speed-up the process.) With cool water and refrigeration, flavors fully blossom making this brine a fantastic type of marinade or basting liquid for grilling, broiling, and roasting.

Do you need to season the meat beforehand? Some people do, others wait. You can always add salt after cooking. Apply salmuera sparingly to enhance the main ingredient rather than overpower it. It's all experimentation.
* For meat cooking a brief time such as a few minutes: Add a light spritz or drizzle in the beginning of cooking, followed by one at the end of cooking, little or nothing in the middle.
* For meat requiring long cooking times: Initial spritz or drizzle. Then baste once every 30 to 60 minutes to flavor and help prevent it from drying out.
* If lavish amounts of salmuera are applied often, you'll see salt crystals forming and the main ingredient becomes too salty. Once you get accustomed to using salmuera as the main seasoning, storing a bottle in your fridge for a quick dinner that tastes really great becomes your tradition.

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