Lomi Salmon

Warning: this is the blog post you’ve been waiting for. This is the dish I would take to my desert island with me if I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life. Salmon lovers only read on.

Lomi Salmon was taught to our dad by our Uncle Harry, who is Hawaiian. I’ve since visited Hawaii in search of Lomi Salmon and realized that traditionally it’s a *completely* different dish. Lomi Salmon (or Lomi-Lomi Salmon, as it’s also known) is  usually served with fresh tomato and onion, and the name comes from the technique of massaging the fish and other ingredients to “shred” the salmon. Our Uncle Harry’s Lomi has none of those ingredients, and if he shreds the fish by hand that is news to me.

This Lomi Salmon is a simply inexplicably perfect flavor combination: rich, salty, ocean-y, spicy, tart and bright. It’s great about 1-2 hours after preparation, and still great 1-2 days later. Because it’s raw fish, no matter how much it is ceviche’d, I don’t recommend eating much beyond 2 days after making it (and for those of you with less robust approaches to eating old food, maybe don’t go beyond 1 day).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb raw salmon*, **
  • 1 container (usually about 1 cup) seaweed salad***
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Hawaiian Sea Salt****

Preparation:

Wash the salmon under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Cut away skin and cut salmon into a small-ish dice (approximately 1/2″ pieces or less), removing any gray underbelly. Place all the cut salmon into a medium sized bowl.

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Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the fish – you want just enough lemon juice to fully coat all the salmon. I like to do enough so that if I press all the salmon down into a firm single layer, the lemon juice sort of oozes up a bit when you push down on the fish. The purpose of the lemon juice is to ceviche the fish! Don’t hold back (but you don’t want the fish swimming in juice either. Find your happy medium).

Add 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon Hawaiian Sea Salt. Mix thoroughly. Chop the seaweed salad into a nice dice, and mix into the bowl as well.

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Pack the Lomi into the bottom of the bowl and cover with a lid or some plastic wrap flush against the fish (I like to minimize the amount of air that touches the fish but there’s no real reasoning there). Put in the fridge to let ceviche and marinate.

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Wait 1-2 hours…if you can. I think it’s best 5-6 hours after you make it. Our dad has found me at 2am, standing in the kitchen, silhouetted by the cold light of the open refrigerator, eating Lomi Salmon by the spoonful straight out of the bowl.

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*I don’t necessarily buy sushi grade because I’m cavalier about food borne illness, but if you’re anxious about uncooked food, then go to an upscale market where you feel you can trust the quality of the fish and food handling.

**I recommend the same salmon buying tips I recommended in Broiled Salmon: Episode 1. Atlantic salmon, some nice fat!

***Seaweed salad should look like the below! Sold often in the prepared sushi section of your grocery store.

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**** I normally am not a stickler for ingredients. But Hawaiian Sea Salt is essential. Don’t use normal table salt. It just won’t be as good.

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