Lomi Lomi Salmon Stuffed Avocado and Laulaus

This month we were given the challenge/assignment by Daring Cooks to do edible containers.  First off, I made stuffed mustard cabbage leaves with a filling that included  fish and fresh corn, baked in a broth.  Since I was not all that happy with the way they turned out, it was back to the drawing board.

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

My final decision was to go Hawaiian.  I have lived here for the better part of my life, though have never posted about two staples of the luau scene.  So, that had to be remedied.   Lomi lomi Salmon is made with salt salmon, and usually served as a side with Lau laus, kalua pork and poi.  Especially poi, as its blandness is a perfect foil to the intense zap of onion, lemon and salt salmon.  I thought an avocado half would serve that same purpose, while holding the salad like a little bowl.

Between the two dishes, you need to plan ahead and start early.  This salmon recipe makes a gargantuan amount, which I cut way down, buying a small package of (8 oz.) salted salmon.  I used two small tomatoes and only 1/2 an onion, and 2 green onions.  That gave plenty for 4 avocado halves.

Lomi Lomi Salmon in Avocado Shells

Adapted from Capt. Mike's recipe
(remember - this makes a large amount, so you may want to cut it down)
   * 1 lb. salt salmon, preferably wild
   * 2-3 tomatoes, diced
   * 2 medium onions, diced - one of the sweet varieties if possible
   * 3 green onions, thinly sliced
   * juice of 1 lime or lemon
1/2 avocado per person, skins carefully peeled off

 Soak the salt salmon fillet in cold water for 3-6 hours, changing the water several times. On your last water change, add a tray or so of ice cubes, as lomi lomi salmon is best when it's very cold. It's also easier to dice, which is the next step.  Unless you bought it diced and salted.  In which case, rinse in a strainer after soaking an hour or so.

Drain the salmon, and remove all bones and skin. Dice the salmon into small cubes, about the size of a pencil eraser. It's o.k to use any smaller pieces, so as not to waste any of the salmon filet.

Put the salmon cubes, diced tomatoes, and diced sweet onion in a glass bowl. Gently combine them with your fingers. Lomi lomi means “massage” in Hawaiian.

At this point, you can cover the glass bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, slice the avocados in half lengthwise, and carefully peel away the skins, keeping the flesh intact.

Toss salad ingredients gently and serve with a slotted spoon into half of a skinned avocado.

Lau laus are made with taro (also called luau) leaves, filled with (usually) pork, and butter fish, though sweet potato is often included and chicken is sometimes used instead of pork.  I used a bit of turkey sausage, butter fish in a miso marinade, and sweet potato.  I love the flavor of the taro leaves, an intense, spinach like green.

First, you remove the thicker ribs and the stems from 7 leaves for each lau lau you want to make.  One of these packages is pretty filling, so make one for each person.  I made three and had one left over.  Lay the taro leaves out in stacks, with the largest leaves at the bottom, shiny side up.  Place a portion of filling ingredients, divided by the number of laulaus you are making,  in the center of each stack, and then fold the sides over snugly to make a little package.

You will also be using ti leaves, ribs cut into part way and stripped, 2 for each laulau, to go on the outside, shiny side down.  The taro leaf package goes in the center of the crossed ti leaves, wrapping both ways, and tied with string.

The packages are then steamed, as per most recipes, for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.  Do not ask me why.  I have been trying to find out if it is just the calcium oxalate crystals in the taro leaves or the pork which require such a long time cooking.  It was suggested as an alternative by one source to pressure cook for 1 1/2 hours.  To me that still seems like an extremely long time. Though, I must admit I have cooked luau leaves before, only until they looked well cooked - less than 30 minutes - and they were pretty inedible with the oxalate crystals.  I had figured it was just the variety??  Some varieties do have more.

The only really involved thing about laulau preparation is removing the thick stems and ribs.  I didn't get too pickly about this, concentrating on just the stems and the thicker of the ribs.  Figuring with that amount of cooking, just about anything would tenderize.

I did the pressure cooker method, over enough boiling water to just come up to the steamer basket, set over a small bowl.   So, pressure steamed.  They don't look exactly gorgeous when opened.  Take my word for it though, really really delicious.

Thus, we ended up with an ono (Hawaiian word meaning really good) dinner of packaged food!  Edible packages that is, Hawaiian style.  Be sure to visit the Daring Cooks site and be amazed at all the creative, inventive approaches to this month's challenge.


Audax said...

You have two good ono recipes here, I have never seen anything like this before and I'm very interested in them both. The green avocado container is so cute and the lomi lomi salmon filling sounds so tasty! Fabulous presentation well done and thank you for sharing the recipes as well.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Swathi said...

We make stir fry with young taro leaves and stem. This dish is awesome.

NOORISH said...

Oh my goodness your blog has brought back so many memories. Talk of poi, kalua pork...man I miss that place sometimes. I lived there for 5 years, during my teenage years, before my family moved back to the mainland. Your Lomi Lomi Salmon sounds sooooo good!!!

Lisa said...

Claudia, wow!! I LOVE how you gleaned the perfect container from your home state, with the taro, and the turkey sausage stuffing sounds amazing! I love Lomi Lomi salmon - great idea to serve them in creamy avocado shells. So creative and lovely! Great job!

oggi said...

Wow, I love the laulau. I didn't know there's salt salmon...I should look for it and try this dish. Being Filipino I love taro leaves cooked in salted fish or micro shrimp paste and coconut milk. I'm bookmarking your recipe. Thanks.:)

Renata said...

Wow, that was totally new to me, gotta research for some Hawaiian food! That looks so delicious! The avocado container added color, beauty and deliciousness to your dish. Thanks for participating in such a delicious way!