"Much like pidgin is a mixed-plate language, local food is a mixed-plate cuisine, a changing amalgamation of the migrations that have shaped Hawai'i over the centuries...The living, breathing food culture of Hawai'i is a direct product of its past. Each group of arrivals to the islands brought with them new plants, animals, ingredients, flavors, and dishes, incorporating them into what was already there."
- Sheldon Simeon
We're back with another recipe from Sheldon Simeon and we couldn't be more excited to share it with you. If your kids like salmon or would like to learn more about them, this lomi salmon recipe is for you.
Hands-on food prep combined with the recipe for kids and the unit study at the bottom means everyone gets the most out of this opportunity to eat and learn.
Learn more about cooking with kids.
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Cook Real Hawai'i
This lomi salmon recipe comes from Cook Real Hawai'i by Sheldon Simeon with Garrett Snyder. There's also beautiful landscape and food photography by Kevin J. Miyazaki.
Inside this cookbook, Sheldon talks more about himself, his family, and the food culture of Hawai'i:
For a third-gen local like me, local food is just the way we eat. We might not always give thought to why hot dogs go with musubi or why mac salad goes with mochiko chicken - that was what we knew as plate lunch spots, birthday parties, local fairs, and picnics at the beach. But for my grandparents' generation, and for some of my dad's generation, too, the notion of taking pride in being local was hard won, formed over many years despite the challenges of poverty, oppression, and discrimination. During the 1970's - while Hawai'i was becoming known as an international tourist destination synonymous with pineapple, luaus, and hula dancing - a growing cultural renaissance and awareness movement on the islands led many locals to more deeply appreciate the richness of our shared history, opening the door to new rules and regulations that were intended to preserve the legacy of Hawaiian culture.
These days, when someone asks me if I am Hawaiian, I'll explain that the term is respectfully reserved for those who are descendents of the original Hawaiians; but I am a child of this land. Although my 'ohana arrived here as immigrants, we - along with the natives Hawaiians - have taken up the mantle of aloha and pono that the first settlers passed down. No matter where my family came from originally, we're locals now.- Sheldon Simeon
Learn more about Garrett Snyder.
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What is Lomi Salmon?
As Sheldon writes in Cook Real Hawai'i:
If you've ever been to a luau you've probably seen the little cups of lomi salmon and poi that are served alongside kālua pig (imu-roasted pork). Made with salt-cured salmon, tomatoes, and sweet onions, lomi salmon has roots in the whaling industry days: Whalers would bring salted salmon with them from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest and trade it with the Hawaiians.
The word lomi means 'to massage,' which is a nod to how the salad is mixed together. Some people will tell you to let the salmon sit, preserving, in salt for a day, but I let it cure for just a couple hours instead, so you can still taste the freshness of the fish. You're probably not preparing for a month-long sailing voyage, I bet.- Sheldon Simeon
Wondering What to Have with Lomi Salmon?
You can eat lomi salmon with rice or your favorite grilled or roasted items. It's traditionally served with poi and dishes such as the Hawaiian Deluxe Laulau pictured above. If you have a copy of Cook Real Hawai'i, you can learn more about those dishes inside.
We ate a good amount of the lomi salmon on its own as soon as it was ready. We all like salmon, so it was something we were ready to eat right away. We also enjoyed it with rice and that worked out well as a complete meal for everyone.
Is Lomi Salmon a Good Introduction to Preparing Salmon for Kids?
Yes! There is no cooking involved. Kids will be able to explore the look and feel of salmon, slice it into cubes, learn how to cure fish, and discover healthy ingredients to combine it with. If you enjoy dishes that include raw fish, we think this is a great gateway recipe for kids.
Lomi Salmon Recipe
- salmon - whatever salmon is local or available to you will work great. For this recipe, we are working with sockeye salmon
- onions - this recipe calls for sweet onions for the perfect lomi salmon
- tomatoes - plum tomatoes or tomatoes that are firm and slightly acidic
- chili pepper water - this homemade Simeon - style chili pepper water is made up of apple cider vinegar, shoyu (soy sauce), fish sauce, bay leaves, garlic, chilies, and salt. We'll show you how to make it or you can use Tabasco or Basic as a substitute
- salt - any Kosher salt will work. We like this pink Himalayan salt
1. Make the Simeon-Style Chili Pepper Water
The Simeon-style chili pepper water is an absolute must-have in my opinion. It's so easy to make that you should definitely go for it if you have the ingredients.
How to Make Chili Pepper Water:
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoon shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed and peeled)
- 8 Hawaiian chili peppers or 4 bird's eye chilies, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoon coarse Hawaiian sea salt or Diamond Crystal kosher salt
Heat the salt and 2 ½ cups of water over high heat. Place the rest of the ingredients in a jar. Once the salt water is boiling, turn off the stove and pour it into the jar. Let the jar cool until it reaches room temperature. Add salt to taste. Place in the fridge for at least 1 day before using. Your Simeon-style chili pepper water can be stored in the fridge indefinitely.
You can also skip this step and use Tabasco or Basic.
2. Skin the Salmon
Wash your hands with soap and water.
Whether your salmon came from a fish market, grocery store, or you caught it yourself, you're likely going to need to skin it. If you've never done it before or want to try something new, here's a super smooth approach to skinning salmon.
3. Slice the Salmon Into Cubes
Kaia is all about fish, especially salmon. She loves to eat it and on this day, it was her first opportunity to actually participate in preparing the salmon to eat. She chose to use the image from the cookbook as a guide and pick out the bones she noticed during that process.
Now, if your kids are slicing delicate salmon using a child-friendly knife, it's not going to turn out the same as it would if you used the Santoku or a regular chef knife. However, it's definitely going to taste the same and the learning opportunity is worth the price of aesthetics. Something to keep in mind.
4. Slice the Scallions
Use a knife and cutting board to slice the scallions. Place them in a clean bowl.
5. Dice the Tomatoes & Onions and Add Salt to the Salmon
Use a cutting board and knife to dice the tomatoes and onions. Add the tomatoes and onions to the bowl with the scallions.
While that was happening, Kaia added enough salt to coat the salmon and then massaged it into the salmon with her hands.
We don't show a ton of cleanup in our recipes but it's definitely a big part of the process. Here Katalina is actually cleaning Kaia's workstation for her while she stepped away for a minute. Using a team approach is extremely helpful when cooking in groups.
6. Cover the Salmon and Let Cure
Cover the salmon and salt mixture in plastic wrap to cure. You can let it sit on the counter for 2 hours or put it in the fridge for 4 hours.
7. Add Salt to the Tomato and Onion Mixture
Add some salt to the tomato and onion mixture. Use your hands to combine the ingredients. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge.
8. Combine the Salmon with the Tomato Mixture
Once the cured salmon is ready, rinse it with cold water and drain. Pat away any excess water. Pour out any excess liquid in the tomato and onion mixture and then add it to the bowl with the salmon. Mix the lomi salmon with your hands.
9. Add the Chili Pepper Water
Add some of the Simeon-style chili pepper water to the bowl of lomi salmon and mix it all together.
Serve lomi salmon while it's cold.
Free Lomi Salmon Recipe for Pre-Readers and Up
Grab your free printable recipe cards above. Kids can gather ingredients using the ingredient list, gather their equipment with the tools list, and prepare the meal using the step-by-step recipe cards, with assistance as needed.
The cards are easy to use, include pictures, and encourage confidence and independence in the kitchen. They also make an excellent addition to your Montessori continent box for North America.
Montessori Continent Boxes
Explore every continent with these solid maple hardwood boxes.
Chinook Salmon Unit Study
Want to learn more about salmon and explore topics related to ecology? This Chinook Salmon Unit Study covers several subjects and is perfect for preschool through elementary learners. When paired with the Parts of a Tree Trunk Puzzle, it's an awesome hands-on unit for kids.
- 1 lb Salmon Fillet
- 6 Plum Tomatoes
- 2 Sweet Onions small
- 4 Scallions
- Kosher Salt
- Simeon-Style Chili Pepper Water
- Make the Simeon-Style Chili Pepper Water: You'll need ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoon shoyu (soy sauce), 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 2 bay leaves, 4 cloves garlic (crushed and peeled), 8 Hawaiian chili peppers or 4 bird's eye chilies, thinly sliced, 2 teaspoon coarse Hawaiian sea salt or Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Heat the salt and 2 ½ cups of water over high heat. Place the rest of the ingredients in a jar. Once the salt water is boiling, turn off the stove and pour it into the jar. Let the jar cool until it reaches room temperature. Add salt to taste. Place in the fridge for at least 1 day before using. Your Simeon-style chili pepper water can be stored in the fridge indefinitely.
- Skin the Salmon: Whether your salmon came from a fish market, grocery store, or you caught it yourself, you're likely going to need to skin it. If you've never done it before or want to try something new, here's a super smooth approach to skinning salmon.
- Slice the salmon into cubes using a knife and cutting board. Pick out any bones as you slice.
- Use a knife and cutting board to slice the scallions. Place in a clean bowl.
- Use a cutting board and knife to dice the tomatoes and onions. Add the tomatoes and onions to the bowl with the scallions. While that's happening, add enough salt to coat the salmon and then gently massage it with your hands.
- Cover the salmon and salt mixture in plastic wrap to cure. You can let it sit on the counter for 2 hours or put it in the fridge for 4 hours.
- Add some salt to the tomato and onion mixture. Use your hands to combine the ingredients. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge.
- After the cured salmon is ready, rinse it with cold water and drain. Pat away any excess water. Pour out any excess liquid in the tomato and onion mixture and then add it to the bowl with the salmon. Mix it with your hands.
- Add some of the Simeon-style chili pepper water to the bowl of salmon and mix it all together. Serve lomi salmon while it's cold.
- You may substitute Tabasco or Basic for Simeon-Style Chili Pepper Water
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
- Full Recipe Info and Pictures at: https://happyhomeschooladventures.com/lomi-salmon
Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.