- 1 gallon cold water
- 3/4 cup non-iodized table salt, or canning salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Mix ingredients until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
For best results, use catfish fillets that are about the same size and thickness. Thinner fillets take less time to brine and less time to smoke. If you're brining and smoking whole sides, trim off the thin belly edge and the thinnest part of the tail end so the overall thickness is fairly consistent from end to end, and top to bottom.
If you haven't already, remove the skin from the fillets, too.
Use a non-reactive container to brine in. That would include glass, ceramic, crockery, plastic and stainless steel. Heck, you could even use a couple of gallon freezer bags to brine in. Actually, those are about the best.
One gallon of brine is enough for 5 to 6 pounds of fillets. Get 2 freezer bags and place about 3 pounds of catfish fillets and ½ gallon of the brine in each of them.
Place the bags in a large bowl (just in case they spring a leak) and put it in the fridge. Leave it there for 4 hours. Move the brining catfish around a few times while it's in the fridge so it brines evenly.
Remove the catfish from the bags and give the fillets a quick rinse. Pat dry with clean towels.