Sheldon Simeon’s lomi salmon from Cook Real Hawai’i.

Sheldon Simeon’s lomi salmon

Months ago now, I had the rather brilliant idea of going on a walk over to Whole Foods on a weekly basis in order to get fresh fish and vegetables in order to make ceviche. I thought that this would be a really fun way to eat more fish and get some good walking in, all while listening to the latest episode of the Office Ladies podcast. 

What started as a warm-weather ritual is one I intend to make a year-round habit, because the most dreary and drab grey winter afternoons call for a walk and some bright, acidic fish as much as a hot, sweltering one. I love any excuse to hop on the commuter water taxi and take a ride, and with some new additions to our cookbook collection that hopefully have more ceviche and tiradito preparations, I’m also looking to expand our repertoire.

Take, for example, this lomi salmon. It’s one of the first recipes I made from Sheldon Simeon’s Cook Real Hawai’i, and it’s one I’m happy to revisit again and again. We’ve long been a fan of Simeon’s from his Top Chef days, and when his first cookbook came out earlier this year, I knew it would be a perfect gift for my husband for his birthday. So far we’ve really enjoyed everything we’ve made from it, but this lomi might be my favorite to date.

Lomi salmon as found at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Admittedly, the first time I tried it I made the fish a little too salty, so I cut back on the amount of salt I used and made sure to rinse and dry the fish thoroughly before serving, and it made all of the difference. It also helped that I was able to enjoy some during our New York trip when I was at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, as in leading up to Christmas they had a Hawaiian-themed food menu. Having that benchmark in mind, I decided to revisit this recipe again the following week when we were back home.

There’s not a lot to this dish in terms of ingredients–in addition to the fish, there’s sweet onion and tomato and some scallions–so what you really need to account for is the time to let the fish and the vegetables cure in kosher salt. If you want to let the fish sit out on the counter you’ll need two hours, and if you stash it in the fridge it will take four. I actually really liked the two-hour cure myself, though I did make sure that we had enough time to let the fish and produce sit together in the fridge so that they had time to marry their flavors together and get colder.

I’m loath to recommend a dish as “healthy” because that could look different for everyone, but if you want something light and flavorful, this is definitely a recipe that hits the spot nicely. 

Lomi salmon 

Lightly adapted from Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2-3 hungry people

  • 1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 medium plum tomatoes, seeded, cored, and diced
  • 2 small or one large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)

Put the salmon in a small bowl and add enough salt in order to put a thin layer on all of the salmon pieces. Cover the bowl with cling and let it sit for two hours on the counter or four hours in the fridge.

While the salmon cures, combine the tomatoes, sweet onion, and scallions into a medium bowl and a couple pinches of salt and toss well with your hands. Cover with cling and refrigerate.

When the fish is ready, rinse the salmon thoroughly and dry well on paper towels. Drain the liquid from the bowl of vegetables, and then add the salmon, toss well, and let them sit for a good 20 minutes to let the flavors marry and for the mixture to chill.

When ready to serve, season with Tabasco sauce if desired and serve in small bowls immediately.

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