Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a dish called “Loco Moco”?
The New York Times has really stepped up during the Pandemic. There are sections for kids, deep dives into upbeat stories, literally dozens of tips for entertaining ourselves, dressing ourselves, marrying each other, and of course, feeding each other. Every Sunday we’re presented with “Five Dishes to Cook This Week”. Last Sunday, one of them was for “Loco Moco”. It’s a hearty take hamburger: An onion-studded beef patty served atop white rice, smothered in a caramelized onion mushroom gravy crowned with a Fried Egg. Its origin was a cookbook called “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i” by Alana Kysar, published last year by Ten Speed Press. I have a dear friend who is 4th generation Hawai’ian so I shot out an email for more information on my Loco Moco. Somehow, my friend has missed out on this culinary triumph so I went to find out more about it.
Whatever you do, don’t translate Loco Moco into Spanish.
In 1949, in Hilo, Hawaii, a local sports team made a request. They asked a favor of the owners of a popular and now long-gone restaurant called Lincoln Grill. Perennially hungry and perpetually short on cash, the teens called themselves the Lincoln Wreckers. They prevailed upon Richard and Nancy Inouye to drop steamed rice into a soup bowl, top it with a hamburger patty and smother it with gravy. It was priced at 25 cents. The fried egg was later added when the dish became a hometown hit. Other local restaurants started adding their own touches—like the mushrooms in this version. About that name…the teens named the dish Loco Moco after one of their members, George Okimoto. George’s nickname was Loco, as in Spanish for crazy. They tagged on “Moco” because they liked the rhyme. Anybody who speaks Spanish is baffled by it. Loco Moco means “Crazy Snot” because Moco is Spanish for “mucus”. Let’s not think about that. Let’s make a Loco Moco. Here’s the recipe.
Loco Moco, A Hawaiian specialty.
A Hawaiian specialty! An onion studded hamburger served atop white rice, smothered in a caramelized onion mushroom gravy crowned with a Fried Egg. Say that fast five times.
- 1 pound ground beef, at least 15 to 20 percent fat
- 1 medium Maui or yellow onion, peeled (1/4 of the onion chopped
- 3/4 sliced)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
- 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed
- 2 ½ tablespoons neutral oil
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (optional)
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 cups steamed white rice
- 4 large eggs, fried, sunny side up or over easy
- 2 chopped scallions, for garnish
- Step 1 In a large bowl, combine the beef, chopped onion, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Form into four patties about 1/2-inch thick. Place the patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Step 2 Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large 12-inch skillet over medium. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sliced onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring often, until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Step 3 Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat over medium. When the oil is hot, swirl the pan around to evenly coat it, then gently place the patties in the pan, spacing them out evenly. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Using a spatula, transfer patties to a clean plate to rest.
- Step 4 Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat over medium until hot. Add the mushrooms (if using) and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, then add the caramelized onions, beef broth, soy sauce, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Step 5 Place the cornstarch in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the broth from the skillet and whisk until smooth. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the skillet and simmer until the sauce has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Step 6 Place 1 cup steamed rice on each plate and top each serving with one patty, then the gravy, a fried egg, and chopped scallions.