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Lomi Lomi Alaska Pink Salmon Lettuce Wraps

Lomi Lomi Alaska Pink Salmon Lettuce Wraps
A Hawaiian classic. Alaska pink salmon is perfect for this preparation as its flesh is slicked with natural oils and flavorful when eaten raw.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 120 minutes
  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Yield: 3 cups lomi lomi salmon salad


  • 1/2 cup brown cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 lime, zested plus half of lime cut into wedges
  • 1 very small knob of ginger, peeled and grated on microplane
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves picked, washed and dried
  • 1 (1 pound)Alaska pink salmon filet, skin on, pin bones removed, thawed
  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • ½ cup cucumber, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 small green onions, chopped
  • 1 small fresno chili, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head butter lettuce, separated into leaves
  • 1 small avocado, pit removed, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Recipe courtesy of Chef Vitaly Paley


  1. Step 1 Read the chef's notes

    Lomi Lomi is akin to poke, perhaps a more popular raw fish preparation. In Hawaii both dishes are frequently served together, side by side at a celebratory dinner and a supermarket deli case alike. Kimberly and I got our first introduction to Lomi Lomi salmon many years ago when on honeymoon in Kauai. It is an infatuation that has lasted us a lifetime.

    Lomi Lomi, loosely translates to kneed, to massage. I use the word “massage” frequently when refereeing to seasoning or massaging flavor into an ingredient. Beware when applying this ancient practice to Alaska pink salmon. Use a firm yet gentle touch followed by a meditation period that allows time for the cure to penetrate the salmon’s delicate flesh.

    Alaska pink salmon is perfect for this preparation as its flesh is slicked with natural oils and flavorful when eaten raw. The filets are typically small and thin and allow the cure to penetrate quickly.

    I use the rum to gently bathe the fish after the curing process is completed. This step allows me to wash the flesh while enhancing the flavor of cured salmon. If you prefer to keep it zero proof, use a little cold water instead.

    So, go ahead, put on your favorite Hawaiian shirt and a pair of flip flops then begin practicing Aloha by making this delicious dish.

    -Chef Vitaly Paley

  2. Step 2 Cure the salmon

    Place brown sugar, salt, orange, ginger, lemon and lime zest in a small bowl.  Coarsely chop a small handful of cilantro leaves then add into the bowl. Mix all ingredients. Place salmon filet, skin side down, on a foil-lined sheet pan that is big enough for salmon filet to lie flat. Massage about two thirds of the cure onto the salmon flesh until it evenly coats the outside. Turn salmon over; repeat process on the skin side with the remainder of the cure. Wrap fish tightly with the foil; refrigerate for 90 minutes.

  3. Step 3 Prepare salmon

    Unwrap salmon when done curing. Pour the rum over the fish. Using your hand, under cold running water, gently rub the outside of the fish on both sides to remove and wash off most of the cure. Carefully place salmon on paper towels; pat dry the fish. Discard foil. To cut the skin off the salmon, place the filet, skin side down, on a clean cutting board. Using a sharp knife at the tail end of the filet, make a small cut along the tail end until you reach the skin, being careful not to cut through the skin. Turn the blade of the knife parallel to the cutting board and slide it between the skin and the flesh. Gently push and pull the blade side to side like a bow of a violin while pulling on the fish skin until all the skin is off. Discard salmon skin.  Cut filet into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces.


  4. Step 4 Prepare salad

    Place salmon pieces into a big mixing bowl; add cucumber, tomato, green onion, and chili. Pour in sesame oil and olive oil. Season with coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste. Mix well then transfer the lomi lomi salmon to a serving bowl. Cover tightly and refrigerate15 to 30 minutes to chill thoroughly before serving.

  5. Step 5 Serve

    On a large platter, arrange lettuce leaves, sliced avocado, hazelnuts, lime wedges and cilantro leaves. Serve with pink salmon lomi lomi.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Vitaly Paley