In Hawaii it’s easy to get a piece of salt salmon, but not in the great northwest. So if you are off island make your own. It’s not the same that’s for sure, but I think it might be better. The best way I can describe it is that it has more of a poke texture, but not totally, because the salting firms it up. I have been making lomi salmon like this for years and have come to believe that fresh salted lomi salmon is better than what I grew up with.
Traditionally you would liberally salt a whole piece of salmon on both sides with Hawaiian or Kosher salt and let it sit in the fridge overnight and up to two days (possibly longer, but I have never gone past two days). This will yield you an extremely salty piece of fish that you need to un-salt, by soaking the salmon in fresh water to remove the saltiness. I think this process came about more out of necessity to preserve the fish rather than to achieve the ultimate flavor.
So I skip this step, and add what I feel is the perfect amount of salt to flavor and brine the salmon without having to add extra salt simply to just take it out. Once you make a batch of lomi you will know if you prefer more or less salt.
To prepare the salmon I cut it up into small cubes and salt the cubes. Once the salmon sits in the salt overnight I simply add in my tomatoes and onions. The trick to getting the right amount of saltiness is to add ice to the mix. As the ice melts it dilutes the saltiness achieving the add salt/remove salt step all in one bowl.
When I make salted salmon for lomi lomi I usually make a whole pound and toss half of it in the freezer for the next lau lau feast.
If you can’t get sweet onions, just soak them in cold water for 10 minutes. This step will mellow the onions and take away some of its bite.
LOMI LOMI SALMON
SALMON (prepare at least a day ahead)
½ pound fresh salmon, cut into small cubes
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
Dice up the salmon into small cubes and toss with salt. Cover and hold in the refrigerator overnight and up to 2 days.
ADD IN’S (it’s time to make the lomi)
3 large tomatoes, diced small
¼ cup sweet onions, chopped small
½ cup green onions, sliced small
1 - 2 cups ice
After the salmon has been salted and left to sit overnight. Mix together with the rest of the ingredients and hold in the fridge until ready to serve. As the ice melts the flavor will even out nicely.