Hawaii for Visitors Recipe Collection


Lomilomi salmon is an appetizer that appears on the menu of nearly every Hawaiian luau. It is a mixture of salted salmon, fresh tomatoes, and fresh onions and it is often served on a bed of crushed ice to keep it chilled and tasting fresh. The lomilomi salmon recipe on this page includes optional chile peppers to give an extra spike of flavor. The fish-salting procedure used to make lomilomi salmon was introduced to Hawaii by early western sailors, who usually included salted fish in their on-board food provisions. Lomilomi salmon also has origins in a traditional Polynesian dish known in Tahiti today as "Poisson Cru" that mixes fresh raw fish with lime juice, coconut milk, tomatoes and onions.

Lomilomi Salmon Recipe

-4 cups salted salmon, diced (see salting procedure below)
-12 tomatoes, diced
-4 small Maui onions, or other sweet onions, diced
-1 cup green onion, thinly sliced
-2 Hawaiian chili peppers or 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Taste the salmon. If it is too salty, soak it from 3 hours to overnight, rinsing twice and changing the water during that time. Mix all ingredients and serve the lomilomi salmon on top of crushed ice. LOMI SALMON PUPU VARIATION: Cut the tops off of cherry tomatoes, remove the pulp, drain and dry the tomato shells, and fill them with the lomilomi salmon mixture. This variation can also be made using larger tomatoes filled with side-dish size portions.

Salting Procedure for Lomilomi Salmon

When salted salmon is not available, some cooks add salt to fresh diced raw salmon to give the flavor of salt-cured salmon, but that method will not result in the most traditional flavor. Here are some instructions for salting fresh salmon:

-Put a layer of Hawaiian salt or kosher salt in a large glass baking dish. Note that table salt is not suitable for salting fish. You must use coarse salt.
-Rinse salmon fillets, dry them well, and place them on top of the salt in a single layer
-Sprinkle more salt on top and make sure all sides of the salmon are covered with salt.
-Cover the salmon with plastic wrap, and weight it down using another glass dish or heavy pan.
-Refrigerate the salmon for 24 hours to 3 days. A longer salting period will pull more water out of the salmon and will result in a saltier and more heavily cured fish.
-Rinse the salmon and dry it well before using to make lomilomi salmon.