Lomi salmon conjures images in my head of the ocean wall next to Waikiki in Honolulu with the tiki torches lining the borders of the hotels. Just beyond that you can hear the waves crashing on the reef with that clean warm ocean breeze in the air. One of our contributing authors was a chef in Waikiki for many years. Her fondest memory was long boarding on her days off at Kaisers till dusk. She told me that the evening lights from the city would reflect off of the ocean with such serenity and calm that it made every day special. It is difficult to travel during these times. But, we still have stories and good memories to replace that for the time being.
What is Lomi Lomi Salmon?
Lomi Lomi Salmon is a traditional dish that is served in Hawaiian luau feasts. Lomi Lomi means “to massage” with reference to the salt that is massaged into the raw fish as a curing method. Made with salted salmon, tomatoes, onions, green onions and sea salt, this is a low fat, low calorie side dish with lots of flavor. Lomi salmon provides a nice contrast to rich and hearty dishes. It is a great accompaniment to steamed fish, roasted meats, starchy foods and salads. In the restaurants, we used this as a garnish for miso butterfish. The combinations was so incredible, you could almost never guess which component was the main dish.
Lomi Salmon and Poi
Just to clarify about starchy foods. I have worked with a number of people from the islands throughout my hospitality career. What do restaurant people talk about? Either alcohol or food usually. On the subject of Hawaiian cuisine we talked about kalua pork, chicken long rice, squid luau, haupia and the love it or hate it sticky starch made from taro root called Poi. Some people like aged Poi that has a slightly sour taste. While others appreciate freshly made Poi that has a natural sweetness. I was told that a lot of people like to mix their lomi salmon together with the Poi. The combination of the slightly salty acidic lomi tomato with the bland starchy Poi seems like a winner in my book.
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PREPARING LOMI SALMON
Normally, Lomi Lomi Salmon is prepared using salted salmon that is soaked in ice water for a few hours or overnight. I find that fresh salmon works fine. We are still making great use of our Ora King Salmon from New Zealand. I did use smoked salmon once, but I thought that the flavor was almost too overpowering. In addition I also like to use red Alaea Hawaiian salt for this dish, but regular white sea salt is just as good. However, if you don’t have any of this, don’t be salty…Kosher salt is a good substitute. If you are looking for quality Hawaiian salt, the best sea salt comes from Hawaii Kai Corporation. Their product is harvested from the shores of Molokai.
*Tips: If you are concerned about food safety with regards to raw salmon. Make sure that you are buying sashimi grade fish. Lightly salt your salmon, double wrap and freeze for 72 hours before use. The salmon we used for this recipe was Ora King salmon from New Zealand which was previously frozen.
Mix diced salmon with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Combine all of the ingredients with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Mix well.
It can be eaten immediately. For optimal results, refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Try this Lomi Salmon Variation
One of my Filipino friends told me that this is how he prepares Lomi Salmon. So, I tried it out. Not sure if I got it right, but it still tastes great with a little variation. Adding these components almost make it a stand alone dish that can be eaten with steamed rice. Tons of flavor. Enjoy!
Lomi Salmon Recipe II
- 2 cups Lomi Lomi Salmon
- 1/4 cup dried shrimp (rehydrated in hot water for 1 hour)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
Mix well and refrigerate until ready to eat.
We enjoyed this as a side dish with our next post on roast pork with brown gravy.