Lomi Lomi Salmon
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I never liked fishing with my dad. It was too early and bitterly cold. We’d leave in the dark and set up as the day peeled from night, tired and reluctant like me—that’s when the biting’s good. It was molasses-slow work. Unable to understand a labor of love, or delayed gratification (if that’s what a few wet fish could be called), I missed the point. I never felt the calm that he did while we waited. But I’ve always loved the smell of fishing.
It’s this smell that’s inducted me into an invisible club of sons and daughters, the ones that know it well and settle into it like worn clothes. It’s fresh salmon, cold and grapefruit red. It’s my dad’s tackle box and his big hands holding up a steelhead and his beat up Dodge Ram that towed the boat. It is primal and outdoor. I can be moved in either direction when I smell it: misty-eyed, thinking of him the night before, tinkering with rods and reels and filling a cooler; or misty-eyed, thinking of that wasted time on the river while I counted down the minutes, selfish like a child is.
I have an idea where my Lomi Lomi Salmon post will go when I read through the recipe, but when I take my fish out of the fridge after its four days in salt, it’s this smell that overwhelms me. Chilled and pure in its rawness, the salmon could’ve been scooped from the river that morning. I chop the onions and tomatoes, but it’s clear that this fish needs little else. Like the poke, the rest of the ingredients are wise to stay out of the fish’s way, adding crunch, acid, and green, but stopping there—the flavor is distinctly salmon, unfettered by distraction.
It’s something my dad might’ve liked, this dish that’s brought his smell into my house. For such light and crisp food, it’s oddly comforting to me. It was a lifetime ago that we fished these cold mornings, but for a moment in my kitchen I would’ve sworn he was right there, holding up a steelhead.
The following is the recipe I used, as found here.
1/2 lb. *salted salmon, deboned and skinned, cut into small, cubed, pieces (think the size of a pencil eraser)
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced into pencil eraser sized pieces
2 small Maui onions, diced into pencil eraser sized pieces
6 stalks green onions, chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper flakes
Place all ingredients in a glass bowl and gently knead/toss with your hands. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Serve and enjoy!
*If you can't find salted salmon, it's easy to make yourself. Simply cover both sides of your salmon filet with a thin layer of Hawaiian salt (do not use table salt) and place in a bowl. Cover with Saran, and refrigerate for 3-4 days. This removes most of the moisture and cures the fish. Before using, rinse fish and let soak in ice cold water for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.