The steps to Emily Mariko’s salmon-and-rice bowl that went big on TikTok last month are simple.
Smash up a couple salmon filets, add some white rice, and send the dish to the microwave (but not before adding an ice cube and covering the food with parchment paper, to prevent drying out). Then comes a few dashes of soy sauce, sriracha, and Kewpie mayo. Mariko mixes the whole thing up, then serves it with avocado, kimchee, and dried seaweed.
Her recipe racked up more than 33 million views and countless viewer recreations. So, we asked three DC chefs how they’d put their own spin on the dish.
A Puerto Rican Rendition
Joancarlo Parkhurst, chef/owner at La Famosa in Navy Yard, says he thinks the meal has become so popular because it’s an easy preparation and it has decent nutritional value.
“The ice cube is ingenious for any microwave heating of rice,” Parkhurst says. “It lets it fluff up and heat properly and kind of reapplies moisture to it.”
For his own dish, Parkhurst would switch out salmon in favor of salt cod, preserved mackerel, sardines, or tuna. He’d add curtido, a spicy slaw, and “lots of cilantro.” An aioli would tie the ingredients together and crispy onion would add some texture on top.
But while Parkhurst thinks bowls like Mariko’s have a time and place, he wouldn’t serve them at his restaurant.
“I’ve done everything in my power to steer away from rice bowls and the Chipotle-ization of food,” he says. “For me, I look at it more as a meal of convenience.”
Cedric Maupillier, chef/owner of Shaw’s Convivial, says he doesn’t quite understand the hype around the dish.
“I was not very impressed,” he says, “Anything on social media is more for the effects than for what it actually can taste like.”
What came to Maupillier’s mind was cuisine from France, where he grew up and began his culinary career. The chef says he might combine rice pilaf with salmon and sorrel sauce to create a richer, more refined flavor.
Smoked and Jerked
Peter Prime, chef and co-owner of the Trinidadian Cane on H Street and the forthcoming St. James in Logan Circle, isn’t a stranger to rice bowls. Cane offers a variety, with toppings that include oxtail, pork belly, curried beef, and Trini-Chinese style chicken.
“I totally get it,” Prime says of the dish’s popularity. “Rice is a comfort food for me.”
Prime’s riff would keep the salmon, but he’d give it a quick smoke and season it with jerk spices. He’d plate that atop coconut jasmine rice, and serve it with tamarind mayo.