Eat Polynesia! Lomi Lomi Salmon



Sometime in the first half of the 19th century Lomi Lomi Salmon became a Hawaiian staple. No one knows for sure how a dish made almost entirely of non-native ingredients came to be but the Hawaiian Time Machine Blog has one of the best explanations I’ve seen.

Ingredient mystery aside, Lomi Lomi Salmon has become an integral part of local Hawaiian cuisine. Lomi Lomi means to massage and that’s one of the secrets to a successful dish. There are only 4 basic ingredients and the instructions are deceptively simple. Deceptive because each lomi lomi salmon maker will create a unique dish to their taste.

Allow some time between creation and serving because lomi lomi salmon is best after it has had time to marinate a bit and is best served cold. Ready for some great taste? Let’s get chopping!


You’ll need 4 tomatoes, 3 stalks of green onion, 2 round onions and 3 lbs of salted salmon. Core and dice the tomatoes, dice everything else and mix by hand (this is the lomi lomi part) in a medium bowl. Cover, put in the frig and let sit at least an hour—ideally, overnight is even better. (Find this recipe at


Some tips, you can salt your own salmon, reduce or add more salt (use Hawaiian salt if available or sea salt if not). Some common substitutions include using sweet Maui onions, or purple onions, adding chili pepper or if you’re in Hawaii, chili peppah watah (we’ll do that recipe in another Eat Polynesia! blog) and even a splash or two of your favorite citrus. Some recipes say to discard the excess tomato juice and others keep the juice and the seeds of the tomato.


Other cooks have substituted canned tuna or salmon (for the budget concious and still delicious!) or gravlax for the salted salmon. Simply season to taste if you use these substitutions.


Now, how do you serve this? Poi is a favorite companion dish but might not be widely available or loved outside of Hawaii. Here are a few ideas from creative cooks.



No Recipes variation with purple onion, chili pepper and citrus

Lettuce wrap from Cooking Hawaiian Style

Lettuce wrap from Cooking Hawaiian Style

Delicious Lomi Lomi Salmon in an avocaddo from California Avocado

Delicious Lomi Lomi Salmon in an avocaddo from California Avocado



Kalua Pig Lomi Salmon Pizza, $18

Kalua Pig Lomi Salmon Pizza, $18

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Dining Lomi Lomi Salmon Pizza


Let us know how your Lomi Lomi Salmon dish turned out and how you served this yummy local favorite. 




Susan Noanoa 




Author’s Bio


Susan Kunz is a long time resident of Laie.

Originally from Samoa, she has had a long

love affair with Hawaiian food with Lomi Lomi

Salmon being one of her favorites. She

currently works at the Polynesian Cultural

Center and enjoys spending time with her

husband and the five of her eight

children who still live in Hawaii plus two of her

five grandchildren.


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