Loco Moco

Loco Moco—hamburger patty on a bed of rice, topped with mushroom gravy and a fried egg

Loco Moco—when I first mentioned the phrase to my husband, he was definitely confused. It’s a (dare I say it) crazy-sounding name, but it a prime example of how Hawaiian cuisine can take familiar components and present them in a completely unique way.

Loco Moco was developed in Hilo, HI, in 1949. Richard and Nancy Inouye of the Lincoln Grill developed it for a group of teens who wanted something that was quick and inexpensive, but not just a basic sandwich. Nancy decided to scoop out some rice, top it with a hamburger patty, and pour brown gravy over everything. The group decided to name the dish “Loco” after one of their members, who had the nickname of “Crazy,” and another boy suggested adding “Moco” to the end because it rhymes.

What they probably didn’t realize is that Loco Moco translates directly to “Crazy Snot” in Spanish. 🙃 I promise, though, this dish is WAY better than that!

Traditional Loco Moco has four basic components: rice, a hamburger patty, brown gravy, and a fried egg. There are countless ways to modify this, and my favorite way is to make a mushroom gravy to pour over the dish (if you want to keep it traditional, though, feel free to leave those out). This dish is rich, savory, and a unique taste of the Islands!


Loco Moco

Burger patties:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Gravy:

  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 TBSP beef drippings (alternately, 2 TBSP butter, with 1 tsp beef bouillon added with the Worcestershire and soy sauce)
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce

2 cups rice, cooked

4 eggs

In a sauté pan, warm up the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms with the garlic powder and onion powder for about 5 minutes, until they begin to brown. Set aside.

Combine the ground beef and spices in a bowl. Portion them out into four equal patties. Put a large, heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat, and cook the patties for about 3 minutes per side. Wrap in foil, and let rest while you prepare the rest of the dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the beef drippings over medium-low heat. Add the flour, and quickly whisk it in. Incorporate the broth in three batches, stirring thoroughly with each addition. Add in the Worcestershire, soy sauce, and mushrooms, and bring to a simmer for about 5-7 minutes, until thickened. While you’re waiting, cook the eggs easy-over in a small sauté pan.

To plate, put a scoop of rice directly on the plate. Put a patty on top of that, then layer the gravy over that. Top it with the egg, and serve.

Serves 4.

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