A lot can happen in three weeks. A session of summer camp can start and end; you can effectively incorporate a new habit into your lifestyle; 21 days could simply pass, unnoticed. Or, if you’re Emily Mariko, you could be launched into the status of national hero, TikTok darling, and everyone’s favorite putter-of-ice-cubes into a microwave.
A little over three weeks ago, Emily Mariko, who self identifies as “29 😜 bay area california 🌞 food fashion and lifestyle 🥦 long vlogs on youtube,” in her TikTok bio, uploaded a video to the platform of her making what she considers her “best lunch of the week!” She pulls some leftover cooked salmon out of the fridge, places it into a bowl and breaks it apart with the back of her fork. Next, leftover white short-grain rice is piled on top of the mashed salmon. Then she takes an ice cube, nestles it into the rice, covers the whole affair with a piece of parchment paper, and zaps it in the microwave. The ice functions to rehydrate the rice and prevent it from drying out too much in the microwave. She tops the mix with soy sauce, Kewpie mayo, and sriracha, then eats it with sliced avocado, a side of kimchi and pieces of dried seaweed, like a DIY hand roll.
It’s hard to overstate the absolute cultural and social implications this video has had. In the three weeks since its release, it’s garnered over 57 millions views (it jumped 2 million from the time I started writing this article to the time I finished.) A trend expert for Instacart noted that orders containing both salmon and dried seaweed have doubled. I started to notice salmon, rice and dried seaweed cropping up across my social media. “No, when I tell you it was one of the most enjoyable dinners I’ve had in a while,” esthetician Gill Milberg said after making the dinner at home and posting it on her Instagram story. “I owe that girl my life.”
I reached out to Mariko in the hopes we could discuss the inspiration behind the recipe and how the ensuing response has been, but as is befitting for the internet’s current main character, she still hasn’t gotten back to me. Instead we culled the web for some of the best and brightest iterations of Mariko’s very own #salmonricebowl.
The Food52 social team tested out the recipe exactly as Mariko demonstrates—they think the trend is here to stay!
Chef and TikToker Jon Kung opted for raw salmon with roe and skipped the sriracha and Kewpie in his rendition. His take is fresh and simple without adding any extra complications. I’m in.
Food blogger Stephanie Manzinali’s version goes vegan and substitutes the salmon for a marinated block of tofu. They then wrap it all up in rice paper and turn it into dumplings.
TikToker and blogger Amanda Weissy whipped out an air fryer to cook her salmon—proving that two internet trends can be stronger than one.
Registered Dietitian and content creator Kylie Sakaida’sversion stayed quite true to the original, but added chopped cucumbers and some sesame seeds for extra crunch.
Perhaps my favorite take on the Mariko bowl is this one, from content creator Graca Walters, aka Texy Kitchen, that uses chicken instead of salmon and eggs instead of avocados. It’s very the ship of Theseus.
And like any good internet trend, the salmon rice bowl has drummed up a fair bit of controversy, mostly surrounding the ice cube. Look at almost any video of the bowl being made and you’ll see one comment appear ad nauseam: How does the ice cube not melt in the microwave? That’s a question I’ll save for Mariko when she finally gets back to me.
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