Honolulu is one of the most diverse cities in the world. We have a huge Asian population, mostly Japanese, plus constantly rotating military families. Throw in the Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, and other Polynesians, along with us regular haoles (technically, I’m hapa, or part Hawaiian) and you’ve got yourself one serious melting pot of awesome.
Also awesome is the fact that Hawaiians love to eat. Growing up, I remember my Hawaiian grandmother’s house felt like one constant party. It seemed like there were always visitors playing music and cooking and enjoying plenty of food. Out here in the middle of the ocean, comfort food is taken to a whole new level. All those different influences combine for some unusual, but very tasty dishes.
Today, at my daughter’s request, we’re sharing loco moco. She helped me make it, and gleefully wolfed down almost this entire portion by herself. This dish can be found at just about every local eatery on the island. It may not be sophisticated, but it’s for real. You’ve got to try it.
Loco moco is simple and delicious. It starts with a bed of white rice, topped with a juicy hamburger steak, a sunny side up egg, and enough gravy to drown the entire thing. Truthfully, I held back on the gravy a bit to make the photo a bit more pretty, but that’s not what loco moco is about.
This is what the locals call ono grinds. It’s not fancy. You could try to make it healthy. You could try to make it snobby. But I think that if you mess with a good thing, screw with tradition, then maybe you’ve created something else all together. It might still be good, but is it still loco moco?
Loco moco should be dirty, greasy, down home, made with aloha, and probably eaten on styrofoam. Try to avoid the last bit if you can. It won’t be easy. Unless you make it at home, which you should. It’s dead easy and kind of amazing. It might even make you a better ukulele player. I haven’t tested that theory.
- 2 cups white rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons green onions, the white parts only, finely sliced (or scissored)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon oil
- fat from cooked burgers
- 1 to 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups beef stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 eggs
- Green onions, the green parts, thinly sliced (or scissored)
- In a medium pan with a tight fitting lid, bring four cups of water to a boil, then add salt.
- Stir in rice, put the lid on, and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to continue steaming for five minutes or until water is absorbed.
- Or just put it in the rice cooker if you are awesome enough to have one of those. I don't.
- When it's ready, divide the rice between four plates so it's ready to have juicy hamburger steaks placed on top.
- In a mixing bowl, combine beef, seasonings, soy sauce, onions, and egg. Work quickly with your hands and try not to handle it excessively.
- Form into four patties.
- Add oil to a large skillet and heat to medium high. Cook patties about 4 minutes a side or to desired doneness. Just make sure you get some good browning on the outside.
- Place a hamburger steak atop each mound of rice so that the juices will soak into the rice. Don't waste the flavor.
- First, remember that gravy making is as much an art as a science, so go with your gut and adjust as needed for your conditions. Everybody likes it a little different. Do what you love.
- Reduce heat to medium low on the remaining fat and delicious bits in your skillet. Sprinkle flour over the fat, just enough to absorb the fat and create a paste. Cook for a few minutes until the flour mixture turns brown.
- Add stock about a quarter cup at a time, stirring well to remove lumps. Also make sure you scrape up any bits off the bottom of the pan. They are full of flavor. Keep adding liquid until you get your favorite consistency and season to taste.
- Add butter to a nonstick skillet and melt over medium low heat.
- Crack you eggs into the pan and season with salt and pepper if desired. Cook slowly until whites are just set.
- Rice goes on the bottom.
- Put your hamburger steak on top right out of the pan to catch all the juices.
- You can put the egg or gravy on next, it doesn't matter. Just don't skimp on the gravy. (Unless you're crazy and want to take your food's photo)
- Scatter green onions over the top.
- Dig in and live the aloha.
- This recipe serves four normal humans or two big Hawaiians. It's easily scalable for a small family or a big gathering.