Mar 11, 2012

Loco Moco, "Local Kine Grindz"

Loco Moco at Kualapuu Cookhouse on Moloka'i
When I first started cooking "Local Kine Grindz" (local food) here on Moloka'i, I realized that most of the locals liked to eat big portions, and always with two scoops of rice. One of those dishes was "Loco Moco", a huge breakfast or lunch meal that is very Hawaiian. It seems that this dish was created 1949 in a restaurant in the town of Hilo, on the Big Island called the Lincoln Grill. A team of local teenage athletes, who had big appetites, requested that the restaurant come up with this dish. It was named after the first kid who tried it, his nickname was "Crazy", which means "Loco" in Portuguese. Loco sounded good with moco, so they named the dish "Loco Moco". So what is Loco Moco? Well hold on to your hats, because this is a meal that is hard to finish. Basically it’s two scoops of white rice topped with a quarter pound grilled hamburger patty, with brown gravy, topped off with a sunny-side-up fried egg, plus various side dishes, like mac salad and perhaps fried saimin. But there are many variations depending on what type of meat you want to substitute for the hamburger. Some people like Spam, ham, roast pork, bacon, chili, Portuguese sausage, teriyaki beef or chicken, mahi-mahi, shrimp or even oysters.

This iconic Hawaiian dish is now eaten from the mainland to the Pacific islands of Samoa to Guam and Saipan. Here on Moloka'i, you need to try our Loco Moco for breakfast at the Kualapuu Cookhouse, in the little town near where I live, Kualapuu. Their Loco Moco is served with a house-made beef patty, rice & gravy topped with tomatoes, cheese and green onions. The service is friendly at the Cookhouse, but everything is made to order, so relax and get ready for a big meal to start your day.

Loco Moco with Brown Gravy
This is classic Hawaiian comfort food. The gravy is what makes this dish slide down so onolicious!

Ingredients for Ground Beef Steak:
1 pound lean ground beef (hamburger)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Ingredients for Brown Gravy:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
dash of soy sauce
dash of Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the rest:
4 eggs (cooked sunny-side-up or over easy)
1 tablespoon butter

4 cups cooked white rice, mixed with a slice of chopped spam and green onions

After you have seasoned the ground beef with salt, pepper and onion powder, form them into four patties. Add canola oil to a large frying pan, cook beef patties until they are cooked to your liking, then remove and keep warm. 

For the gravy, combine the butter and oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until slightly browned. Add the flour and stir until pale brown, then gradually add the beef stock. Stir until the gravy thickens and turns brown in about three minutes. add garlic, ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Taste and season with a dash of soy sauce and Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper if needed. Set gravy aside. 

Fry eggs (sunny-side up or over easy) in butter. Divide hot rice mixture onto four plates or bowls, top with hamburger patties and hot gravy, top that off with the fried eggs. Serve with side dishes of your choice; mac salad, fried saimin, or perhaps just a big slice of orange. 

Makes 4 big serving.

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