Recipe: Jon’s Ono Lomilomi Salmon

My favorite Hawaiian side dish is lomilomi salmon; when I visit my parents, my mom always makes it for me. It’s essentially a fresh tomato and salmon salad, and after years of asking for my mother’s recipe (and promptly forgetting to write it down), I finally went ahead and pieced it all together myself.

Servings: ~8 cups


  • 1 lb. fresh salmon (easiest is 2 half-pound fillets)
  • 2 parts salt (easiest is 26 oz. can Morton salt, not iodized)
  • 1 part white sugar (half-can of Morton, see below)
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 5-6 stalks green onion, diced


Preparing the salt salmon, part one

First we need to cure the raw salmon in a salt-sugar mix for at least two or three days. You’re basically going to bury the salmon fillets in two parts salt, one part sugar, put them in your fridge, and let the salt suck all of the moisture out of them.

  1. Mix the salt and sugar in a large bowl. The ratio doesn’t have to be exact: for quick and easy measuring, cut off the top of the Morton can, empty it into the bowl, then fill the can halfway with sugar and empty that in with the salt.
  2. Next you’ll need a coverable container to cure the salmon in. I used a large rectangular tupperware container, but a 9×13 glass dish with saran wrap will do. Pour down a half inch layer of the salt-sugar at the bottom of the container.
  3. Now you need to stack your fillets inside, alternating with at least a half inch of the salt-sugar between each fillet. Also make sure that the fillets face like-sides, ie. skin to skin, and flesh to flesh.
  4. Cover the top with the remaining salt-sugar, then seal the container and put it into your fridge for at least three days.

Preparing the salt salmon, part two

After you’ve let the salmon cure for a few days, you’re going to need to rehydrate it before you can use it.

  1. Take the container out of the fridge and dig out the salt salmon. The salt-sugar should be like mush, and the salmon a little stiff.
  2. Fill a large bowl with cold water, and set the fillets inside to soak.
  3. In twenty minutes or so check the fillets. Cut off a tiny corner and taste it: if it’s still super salty, change the water in the bowl and let it soak again.
  4. When the fillets aren’t too salty anymore, take them out of water, remove the skin and dice into quarter inch chunks.
  5. Set the salmon chunks aside.

Preparing the vegetables

  1. Dice the sweet onions and set aside.
  2. Dice the green onions and set aside.
  3. Dice the tomatoes, and set aside.

Lomilomi time

It’s time to mix everything together. Now, the dish is called lomilomi salmon because lomilomi is Hawaiian for massage, and it’s traditional to mix everything together with your hands.

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Pour the chopped vegetables and salmon chunks into a large glass bowl or tupperware container.
  3. Dig in with your hands, and mix everything throughly.
  4. Finally, throw in a couple of ice cubes, cover the container, and put it back into your fridge.

Finishing touches

Now it’s time to let your lomilomi salmon set. By the time the ice cubes have melted, it should be ready to check. Take it out of the fridge and give it a good mix. If it tastes too sharp or the vegetables are still too crispy, try adding a small amount of plain tomato juice (not V8!), mix it up, and put it back into the fridge to set a while longer. Otherwise, serve and enjoy! It’s best served cold, especially alongside fresh steamed rice.

Remember, it is a salad dish, and does contain fish, so it won’t last more than a couple of days. Don’t leave it out longer than you have to: keep it in the fridge in a sealed container.

Eight cups serves about 16 haoles, 8 hapa-haoles, 4 Hawaiians, or 2 homesick Hawaiians. 🙂

Like it? Love it? Say so in the comments!


Updated 12/25/16 to fix the ratio of ingredients and serving sizes.

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