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! 


In Hawaiian, lomilomi means to massage, or in this case to break the salmon into small pieces, which are then mixed with tomatoes, onions, and other small condiments, giving it a delicious tangy taste that goes great with poi. This style of fish preparation, introduced to Hawaii by early western sailors, is a delightful surprise and a must-have item at any luau.

Yield: 4 servings


  • Whole tomatoes, 4 each
  • Green onions, 1/2 lb
  • Round onions, 2
  • Diced salmon, 3 lbls


  1. Core and rinse tomatoes; finely chop. Place in large 12″ plastic bowl.
  2. Repeat same procedure for onions and add to mixture.
  3. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  4. Divide evenly into bowl. Cover and place in refrigerator

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 avocado from California Avocado        


Kalua Pig Lomi Salmon Pizza

Kalua Pig Lomi Salmon PizzaHonolulu Star-Advertiser Dining

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 four of her eight children who still live in Hawaii plus four of her nine grandchildren.