Lomi Lomi Salmon

Updated June 17, 2009

Originally posted November 23, 2007

Lomi Lomi Salmon

Lomi lomi salmon

We made this lomi lomi salmon recipe for our recent “Ultimate Backyard Lu’au”. “Lomi lomi” means “massage” in Hawaiian, and it refers to the way the ingredients for this dish are massaged together. I don’t really know how salmon came to be the fish of choice for this style of dish but it’s all good.

We got our salmon from (who else?) our favorite fish monger, Pat from Mission Fresh Fish. He’s the same guy who supplied us with the ahi for the Ahi Limu Poke, all the seafood for our Cioppino Hot Pot meal, and the salmon bones for our Wild Salmon Cakes. We bought the salmon on Thursday at the San Carlos Farmer’s Market . That night, I skinned the fillets, pulled out the pin bones, and salted them with some Hawaiian sea salt before putting them in the fridge.

Salting the Salmon Fillets for Lomi Lomi Salmon

Salting the Salmon Fillets for Lomi Salmon

On Friday night, I took the salmon fillets out of the fridge and rinsed off the salt, then patted the fillets dry. Annie cut the fillets into 1/2 inch-wide strips, then diced the salmon up. The diced salmon went back into the fridge.

Dicing Salmon for Lomi Lomi Salmon

 Dicing Salmon for Lomi Lomi Salmon

We had purchased over 10 pounds of Roma tomatoes at the San Carlos Farmer’s Market. Since we didn’t want to carry the box around while we shopped the rest of the market, we left the box with the vendor. There must have been a mixup, because when we came home, we found our box full of less-than-ripe globe tomatoes!

Since this was early June, these tomatoes didn’t have nearly the flavor of the Romas, let alone fully ripened heirloom tomatoes from our own garden. But what could we do? I cut each tomato in half and seeded them.

Halved and Seeded Tomatoes for Lomi Lomi Salmon

Halved and Seeded Tomatoes for Lomi Lomi Salmon

The Tomato Dicing Expert

Now began the arduous task of dicing up the tomatoes. I am not as skilled with the knife as Annie is. I was cutting each halved tomato into slices, then strips and finally dice. I wasn’t getting very far when Annie came up.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m trying to dice the tomatoes.”

“You call this a dice?” She held up an irregularly shaped piece of tomato.

“Well, how can I dice this tomato so it looks uniform?”

“Why don’t you slice the tomato in half, then make strips one way and then cut perpendicular to make the dice?”

“I’m doing that but the stupid knife isn’t sharp enough and the tomato keeps slipping.”

“Oh, so it’s the knife that’s stupid, huh?”

“Well, uh…”

“Look, don’t use a sawing motion. Let the knife do the work for you. Just lay the point of the knife on the board, and cut the tomato with the back of the knife using a rocking motion.”

“A rocking motion? How…?”

MOVE!” (slice, chop chop chop chop, chop chop chop chop) “There, see? Was that so hard? Hand me another one.”

Before I knew it, she had diced all the tomatoes as well as a red onion. She handed me back the knife so I could chop up some green onion. “By the way, a-you’re welcome!”

Diced Tomatoes and Red Onion for Lomi Lomi Salmon

Diced Tomatoes and Red Onion for Lomi Lomi Salmon

(Note: I have taken creative license with the previous story. The real Annie is nothing like a “Nick Burns of the kitchen”. Love you, honey!)

After adding the chopped green onions to the tomatoes and red onions, I poured the whole pile into a large aluminum tray, then added the diced salmon. Here’s where the “lomi lomi” massage technique comes in. With both hands, I gently mixed the ingredients together until everything was well distributed. As a final touch, I squeezed some lemon juice onto the lomi lomi salmon to brighten up the flavors.

Lomi lomi salmon needs to be served chilled, so I put some ice in another aluminum tray, and put the salmon-filled tray on top of the ice.

Tray of Lomi Lomi Salmon

Tray of Lomi Lomi Salmon

The lomi lomi salmon was a very popular dish at our lu’au. The saltiness of the salmon was tempered by the sweetness of the tomato. The red onion’s crunch and bite stood out against the salmon and tomatoes’ softness.

Lomi Lomi Salmon

 Lomi Lomi Salmon

Back in Hawai’i, the lomi lomi salmon served at lu’aus often was more tomato than salmon, and those tomatoes were usually hard and mealy. Our lomi salmon was better because it had a higher ratio of salmon to tomato. The best lomi lomi salmon recipe, though, would be if we used some of Annie’s own homegrown heirloom tomatoes instead of under-ripe globes.

Down with soulless tomatoes!

Aloha, Nate

Links to Hawaiian Lu’au Food recipes

Huli Chicken Recipe

Kalua Pig with Cabbage Recipe

Ahi Limu Poke Recipe

Huli Chicken Recipe

Chocolate Haupia Pie Recipe

7 thoughts on “Lomi Lomi Salmon”

  1. >Oh, I get it.  Act incompetent so that the "expert" comes and rescues you.  Meanwhile, you get to chill and sample the products while the Expert does all the work.  O:-)   You got snookered Annie. 

  2. >Nate: I can just hear Annie saying all of that to you as you tried chopping tomatoes. Too funny! Here's another great trick — use a serrated knife. Tomato skins are so slick and smooth that you need a knife that has a serrated edge to grab onto them easily.

  3. >I’m such a huge fan of Ahi tuna and salmon. After reading about this recipe that uses salmon made me a bit hungry. I can imagine the buttery texture of the salmon now.

  4. >Like butter and vegemite on toast, I think salmon with red onion are a perfect mix, combined with some tangy tomato, sounds like a great recipe. I'd be happy to attempt this recipe when summer arrives. Thanks guys!

  5. >as a Hawaiian-at-Heart stuck in Back-woods Nebraska, pregnant and craving Lomi Salmon, I must say your pictures look good enough to make me drool. We're going to Oklahoma soon, and I'm hoping to find some salted salmon in the BIG CITY of Tulsa. I've been craving this for way too long. Thanks for the almost-fix.

    if you're looking for some good Hawaiian recipes to try, check out Just Jenn Designs and then find her recipe section. Super Ono!! and I don't even know her personally!

  6. I see you used the red onions… I typically see green onions in lomi lomi salmon. Is there a reason you don’t use them?

    Sure looks ‘ono… gonna make some of this, too!

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