Tahoe recipe: May Day lomi lomi salmon | SierraSun.com

Tahoe recipe: May Day lomi lomi salmon

Lomi lomi salmon is a classic May Day luau tradition that is a hit on any occasion.
Courtesy Simone Grandmain |

“May Day is lei Day in Hawaii…” So goes the song and, no, I don’t know the rest of it, but what I do know is May 1st is a very big deal in Hawaii, which is where I grew up before opting for the treacherously cooler climes of Truckee-Tahoe.

The day is filled with hula, pageantry and a full-blown celebration of Aloha. Each school, beginning in elementary and continuing through high school, puts on a May Day extravaganza complete with a royal court represented by prince and princesses voted in to represent each island.

Auditions are held for students hoping to be a part of the traditional Hawaiian dances to be performed for proud parents on the big day. My friend Kelly and I, both blonde and her with blue eyes, practiced our hula for weeks hoping to get a part in the May Day pageant.

She ended up in the royal court doing a beautiful waltz with a hot “prince” and I ended up in squatting in the rock dance. That’s right — I got a rock. It scarred me. My self esteem took a hit. It has never fully recovered.

Kelly went on to marry John Travolta (that’s right, Kelly Preston) and I ended up living vicariously through her life. But I digress.

This is a recipe column and May Day food is truly column worthy. In fact, I plan to devote and entire page to real Hawaii-style fare in August and call it “Luau Know How.”

Until then, I will give you a little teaser and introduce you to lomi lomi salmon. Lomi lomi means “massage” in Hawaiian and it is used here to reference the “massaging” or breaking into small pieces of the salmon.

Now I am going to lomi lomi my ego and give you one of the best recipes Simone Appeitit has ever offered.

Ingredients for the salmon:

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

1 pound wild salmon fillet (skin removed), rinsed and patted dry

For the salad:

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced


Cure the salmon: Mix the salt and sugar in a bowl. Place 2 long pieces of plastic wrap on a work surface, overlapping them to form a cross. Put half of the cilantro sprigs in the middle of the plastic wrap and top with half of the salt-sugar mixture.

Press the salmon into the mixture, making sure the bottom of the fish is covered with salt and sugar. Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining salt-sugar mixture and massage it in, then place the rest of the cilantro on top. Wrap tightly in the plastic and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The next day, unwrap the salmon, rinse off the salt and pat dry. Cut into 1/4- to-1/2-inch cubes. For the salad, toss the salmon, cilantro, tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno, vegetable and sesame oils and lime juice in a bowl.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at simonegrandmain@gmail.com.

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