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Salmon Rice Bowls and Feta Pasta? TikTok Makes Simple Recipes Go Viral

NBC New York logo NBC New York 10/13/2021 Ana Sandoval
The TikTok viral salmon rice bowl. © Provided by NBC New York

The TikTok viral salmon rice bowl.

Everybody loves food, especially TikTok users, and viral recipes seem to completely take over the app in cycles. This month it is the salmon rice bowl.

Particularly at the early stages of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok was filled with viral food recipes that everyone wanted to try. First it was whipped coffee, where users whipped instant coffee, sugar, and water until it formed a whipped cream like substance. Then it was pancake cereal, which consisted of tiny little pancakes put in a cereal bowl with milk.

While slightly different, all these recipes have something in common: they have gained millions of views on the app. 

"I think that the things that go the most viral on the app are the those that are the most attainable," says food TikTok creator Jen Curley, who goes by Snackqween on TikTok, "It is never a recipe that has to be made from scratch or anything like that, it is always something that is easy and simple, kind of like a trick for the end result to be good.”

Easy yet delicious recipes tend to gain views and likes quickly, like one of the most famous recipes on the app: the baked feta pasta. And while its tag has over 100 million views on TikTok, the pasta is quite a basic recipe, all it requires is baking cherry tomatoes and a block of feta cheese and then mixing in cooked pasta. The recipe originated in Finland, and rumor is that it was so popular that it sold out feta cheese at grocery stores. 

The most recent trend taking over TikTok is a salmon rice bowl created by Emily Mariko. The bowl seems simple in theory, but for whatever reason it has completely taken over the app, the #salmonricebowl has 17.4 million views. The video that Mariko posted last month went viral, gaining tens of millions of views and 5 million likes...so far. 

Curley said that aside form the simplicity of the bowl, the fact that it is dietary restriction friendly probably contributed to its fame.

"It is gluten free, it does not involve a heavy meat, it's dairy free...I would say the salmon bowl really checks off a [lot of boxes]," Curley said.

Like the feta pasta, this salmon bowl features very few ingredients and has still managed to mystify the internet.

Mariko makes the bowl with leftover cooked salmon, which she smashes with a fork on a plate. She then places a bowl of rice in the microwave with an ice cube (turns out the ice will steam the rice and keep it moist). Mariko then places the salmon over the rice, mixes it in and drizzles it with sriracha and Japanese mayo and finishes it off with seaweed and avocado. 

The reason why these recipes receive so many views and attention could also have to do with the culture within TikTok. Once something goes viral, and is on the "For You" section, then it is much more likely users will see even more videos related to the original content.

Curley, who primarily makes videos trying recipes that her followers request, says that as a food creator she tries to make as many of these viral recipes as possible.

"I don’t try every single one of them, and I definitely try to do most of them. Especially because it is directly relevant to my content," Curley said.

Recipes like the salmon rice bowl and the baked feta pasta, as well as food hacks, are being posted on TikTok everyday. As one trend gains popularity it's very likely a new one will quickly arise, taking the attention away from the last.

[We tried the recipe ourselves, you can watch our TikTok here.]

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