Wisconsin Paper Bag Salmon

Also known as “Poor Man’s Cedar Plank Salmon,” we discovered this unique method of grilling salmon on a paper bag about ten years ago in the great state of Wisconsin (thus the name).   Must admit, the first time I saw our neighbors throw a dry paper bag and a big slab of salmon onto their gas grill, I was tempted to run back to the cottage to call 911.   I decided to have another beer instead, and watch.  Amazingly, no flames!    And because we have very “neighborly” neighbors, they shared some of their grilled paper bag salmon with us.  Moist, with a touch of smokiness.  Absolute perfection.   I brought this unusual technique back to Chicago with me, and we’ve been grilling salmon this way ever since.  Wishing everyone a safe and festive 4th of July and happy cooking and safe celebrating!

Wisconsin Paper Bag Salmon

1 large salmon fillet, skin on (see Note 1)

Olive oil, preferable classic or “light”

Sea Salt and coarsely ground black pepper OR Williams Sonoma Potlatch Seasoning (see Note 2>)

1 brown paper grocery bag, handles removed

1 spray bottle water (just in case)

Lemon wedges

Let salmon rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Brush very lightly with olive oil and season with either salt and pepper or Williams Sonoma seasoning.  Preheat grill (gas works best for this) to medium indirect heat.   If your grill has three burners, be sure the middle burner is turned off.  When grill is hot, place the grocery bag in the center; place salmon, skin side down, onto the paper bag.  Cover and grill until cooked through, about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillet.  If all goes as planned, the bag will blacken and smolder but never catch on fire.  If it does, you’ve got your water bottle, right!

Carefully slide paper bag onto a small metal sheet pan.  Then invert the salmon onto a cutting board.  Peel the bag off.  The skin should adhere to the bag and peel right off.  Isn’t that nifty?!  Now invert the salmon once again onto a platter, so you can show off the beautiful presentation side.  Serve with lemon wedges and amaze your friends and family.  Congratulate yourself with a crisp glass of Oregon State Pinot Gris.

Note 1> Most seafood watch groups advise against consuming farm-raised salmon.  Your best bet, if available, is wild caught Alaskan salmon.  My personal favorite is sockeye.  Other types of fish may also be used with this method, including ruby trout and arctic char.

Note 2> Williams Sonoma “Potlatch Seasoning” is tailor made for salmon and adds a terrific flavor.  Available in stores or online at http://www.williams-sonoma.com.  If you like salmon, this seasoning belongs in your spice cabinet!

4 thoughts on “Wisconsin Paper Bag Salmon

  1. Slice side of whole salmon and put bacon stripes in slices. Fill the stomach ( whole inside) of cleaned salmon with sliced onions and sliced tomatoes, and spices of choice. Wrap in paper bag and place in oven in rectangular baking dish . When baked this way and removed from oven, unwrap top of paper bag and the skin will unwrap also, and you can slice and serve the fish that has a filling of veggies in each slice.

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