Salmon, rice, and dried seaweed are considered common household grocery items to the average consumer, but to Emily Mariko, they may have just been her call to fame. The 29-year-old fashion and lifestyle influencer, best known for her recipes on TikTok, has gained a tremendous following over the past two months. Her vibe and mouthwatering dishes are both things that appeal to different audiences including children, college students, and adults.
Mariko was born and raised in California. She attended Columbia University and in 2014, she received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and behavior. Since her graduation, Mariko has grown into the social media spotlight. She began her career in social media on Instagram and YouTube, both used as platforms to document her lifestyle and inspire her followers. She started her YouTube channel in 2012, and since then has gained over 448 thousand subscribers. Her YouTube includes vlogs, clothing hauls, and styling tips. Mariko aims to be a positive influence on her followers. She states, “I’m here to help you look and feel your best as you tackle the world and have fun with life.”
Her social media fame took off after she posted a one-minute video on TikTok showcasing her making a leftover meal commonly eaten in Japanese and Korean households. The video documented Mariko mashing her leftover salmon filet with a fork, placing white rice on top of that with an ice cube in the middle. She then covered the dish with a sheet of wax paper and placed it in the microwave. After taking it out she removed the ice cube, mixed it up, added a splash of soy sauce, a drizzle of both sriracha and kewpie mayo then topped the plate with avocado and kimchi. Mariko ended the video by taking a bite of the meal with dried seaweed and chopsticks.
The video went extremely viral, reaching over 73 million views and 7.1 million likes since it was posted in late Sept. Since the videos release Mariko’s TikTok platform has grown to 6.9 million followers and over 180 million likes. The TikTok community seems to love everything, Emily Mariko, from her subtle organized aesthetic and ASMR in her videos, to the ease of replicating her recipes. Something about her is soothing and addicting to the average TikTok user. Matt Peterson, a verified TikTok influencer, perfectly captures the effect Mariko’s videos have on her followers. He states, “Is there a recipe? I have so many questions… This looks amazing, also, I don’t even cook but I’m tempted too just for this.”
Like many other trending topics, the hype comes and goes. This is not the first recipe on TikTok that has gone viral. There have been many others selling out ingredients in stores. Over the past year alone, two main dishes were spread around TikTok, being recreated and posted by countless users.
Baked feta pasta was trending over this past Winter. Due to this trend, grocery stores set up displays with the ingredients, knowing their shoppers may be influenced to try the dish and thus purchase the items. Then there was Gigi Hadid’s vodka pasta. The celebrity’s recipe was first seen on Instagram but quickly made its way to TikTok as food influencers began to recreate the recipe.
The commonality between all these dishes is how easy they are to make for any level of cooking ability. Mariko’s dish is no different: it requires just 10 minutes and many items you likely already have in your kitchen, making it an easy and tempting dish to recreate. Mariko wants her followers to be able to enjoy cooking and eat things that taste good. She states, “I know how much of a hassle cooking is. It is important to me that my dishes are easy and fast, life gets busy, and you should be able to enjoy your food without being stressed about having to cook every night.”
TikTok has easily become one of the most influential platforms in the lives of young people today. It brings together a community of like-minded people who enjoy a variety of topics. The video platform gives users a place to showcase anything they would like. Mariko, much like many influencers, gives users a look into a different lifestyle than their own and watching it is addicting.