Recipe Review

I Tried the Leftover Salmon Rice Bowl That’s All Over TikTok and It’s My New Favorite Lunch

published Oct 5, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

A couple of days ago I noticed that my entire FYP (for you page) on TikTok was consumed by a woman named Emily Mariko. Her cooking videos are made in a spotless, well-lit kitchen; her fridge is the cleanest, freshest place on the internet; and her wardrobe is the most admirable collection of cool, trendy athleisure. What is it about her videos that I, along with the rest of TikTok, can’t stop watching? I’m honestly not sure, but I am strapped in and very much along for the ride.

Her leftover salmon and rice dish is by far her most popular creation. It seems the kids are saying that this dish has everyone on TikTok “in a chokehold.” That’s a graphic way to put it, but I guess she’s got her arm around my neck, too, because I simply have no other option but to try out this recipe. It’s the next big thing since feta pasta, so it’s time to give it a whirl.

How to Make a Salmon Rice Bowl

The dish itself is quite simple and a very clever way to use up leftovers. First, use the back of a fork to mash up leftover cooked salmon. Then, add a heaping pile of leftover rice. Place an ice cube at the top of your rice pile, then cover the whole thing with a sheet of parchment. Microwave until the rice and salmon are warm; this was about two minutes for me. Take the parchment off and discard the ice (it doesn’t completely melt).

Next, season the dish with Sriracha, mayo (Kewpie is as good as it gets, but any mayo will suffice), and soy sauce, then mix everything up. To serve it, place a few avocado slices on top along with a spoonful of kimchi. Some variations on Emily’s recipe add other fresh ingredients like diced cucumbers, so toss some in if you like. Use a pair of chopsticks and a small sheet of seaweed to scrunch up some of the salmon and rice mixture like a sushi roll. Now, that’s how to turn your leftovers into a pretty bang-up lunch.

Get the recipe: Salmon Rice Bowl

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review

This was so delicious. I don’t cook a ton of fish at home, but after one bite, I might need to become a person who regularly finds themself with leftover salmon. It came together super quickly and it was quite fun to eat (although I would argue that eating anything with chopsticks is always more fun). Reheating the food with an ice cube under the parchment was definitely a pro move — the ice gently steamed the rice so it warmed up nicely without becoming gummy or chewy. Frankly, I’m excited to eat the leftovers and enjoy this all over again.

What’s more interesting to me about this salmon rice dish is not how delicious it is, but the absolute viral thunderstorm that it has created. I cannot open TikTok without being completely bombarded by Emily Mariko Salmon Rice Discourse. Yes, there is discourse. All viral recipes are polarizing because there’s one side saying how completely earth-shattering and amazing this new recipe is and there’s the other side saying that it’s nothing new. Naturally, this salmon rice dish is getting that treatment.

At the end of the day, I don’t think Mariko intended for her salmon rice lunch to attract the attention that it has, which is the hilarity of a recipe going viral. We can chalk virality up to the inexplicable algorithms of social media, but there’s no denying that this dish is easy and tasty — regardless of what the comment section has to say about it.

Credit: Sara Tane

My #1 Tip for Making Salmon Rice

Don’t bother measuring your ingredients. Use as much salmon and rice as you plan to eat, and season to taste. If it needs more salt and umami flavors, add more soy sauce. If it needs heat, add more Sriracha. If it needs a bit more fat and full-bodied texture, add an extra squeeze of mayo. No need to pull the measuring cups out for this one.