A Trip to Hawai’i has never been more appealing…
I don’t need to go into the reasons why. I am sure you too would love to bury your feet in the sand—if not your whole head. So today, we’ll dream of the paradisical islands that emerged from the sea in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And it just so happens, I just wrote about a great way to tour every one of them. My friends there cannot say enough good things about Holoholo, a rideshare company, started by a man named Cecil Morton, who has been in the transportation business in Hawaii for 20 years. They adore this guy whose daughter came up with the name Holoholo which means ‘let’s go cruising’. So, here’s a link to the story I wrote:
Before we head to Hawai’i, let’s eat Hawaiian.
Loco Moco is a Hawaiian specialty. 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, Ten Speed Press 2019. I have a dear friend who is 4th generation Hawaiian 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, Hawai’i, a local sports team made a request. They asked a favor of the owners of a popular restaurant called Lincoln Grill. Perennially hungry and perpetually short on cash, the teens called themselves the Lincoln Wreckers. They asked Richard and Nancy Inouye to drop steamed rice into a soup bowl, top it with a hamburger patty and smother it with gravy. It cost 25 cents. The fried egg was added later. The dish became a hometown hit. Local restaurants added 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”. Let’s not think about that. Let’s make a Loco Moco.
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.
Here’s another dish with a Hawaiian background…