Loco Moco

Loco Moco Recipe

With a name that sounds more like a Mexican fast food joint or a designer drug’s street-name, you’d hardly expect Loco Moco to be a dish that hails from a chain of volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Born out of the plate-lunch culture that is a pillar of modern Hawaiian cuisine, Loco Moco is a dish that could only have been invented in the melting pot that is Hawaii.

A mountain of rice topped with a hamburger patty and fried egg, all floating in a sea of brown gravy, Loco Moco is an eclectic mix of Asian and American comfort foods that symbolizes the Aloha State in more than one respect. As tasty as it sounds, I’ve never had a Loco Moco that’s really bowled me over. The patties are often overcooked, underseasoned pucks of hamburger, and the gravy usually tastes like it came out of a package.

Recently, a reader asked me how I’d make my version of Loco Moco and it got me thinking about how I could take this plate-lunch staple from good to great.

First, I wanted a patty that was more tender and flavorful. The obvious solution would have been to simply borrow the patty mixture from my Japanese Hamburg Steak, but that just seemed like too far a departure from Loco Moco’s laid-back simplicity. To that end, I kept it easy, adding panko for moisture retaining tenderness and some onions, oyster sauce and Worcestershire sauce for flavor.

For the gravy, I decided to do a mushroom pan gravy incorporating the fond from frying the patties along with some well browned mushrooms. Finally some soy sauce and bourbon go into the gravy for some extra oomph (Kentucky may be a long way from Hawaii, but when has adding booze ever been a bad thing?).

Loco Moco

My last trick was to cover the rice and hamburger with fried shallots. This adds a marvelous sweet onion flavor to both the rice and the gravy, elevating the dish to another level of deliciousness. Topped with a sunny-side up egg, it’s heaven on a plate.

Equipment you'll need:

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    Rating: 4.38
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    Loco Moco
  • Tender, flavorful hamburger, fried shallots and a mushroom pan-gravy take this Loco Moco to another level.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
2 10 minutes 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 225 grams beef - ground
  • 14 grams panko (~ 1/3 cup)
  • 45 grams onion finely minced (~1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 50 grams button mushrooms (5 small mushrooms)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoons bourbon
  • 2 large eggs
Servings:
Units:

Instructions

  1. Add the ground beef, panko, onions, oyster sauce, worcestershire sauce and black pepper to a bowl and mix until well combined, but don't be too aggressive with your mixing or it will make the patties too dense. Chopsticks work really well for mixing.
  2. Split the mixture into 4 pieces and form them into 4 patties that are about a 3/4-inch (2cm) thick.
  3. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat until hot, and then add the oil. Add the patties and fry until they have a brown crust on one side (about 2 1/2 minutes). Flip the patties and fry until they’re cooked through (another 2 1/2 minutes).
  4. Transfer the patties to a plate and then add the mushrooms, sauteéing until the mushrooms are well browned.
  5. While the mushrooms are frying heat another sauté pan, add a bit of oil and fry the eggs however you like them.
  6. Push the mushrooms to the sides of the pan and melt the butter in the center along with the flour. Fry the roux until a medium brown.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the beef stock, soy sauce and bourbon.
  8. Once the mixture is smooth and free of lumps, put it back on the stove and bring to a boil, cooking until the gravy is nice and thick.
  9. To plate the Loco Moco, first put down a mound of hot rice. Top with the beef patties and then sprinkle on a handful of fried shallots. Cover everything with the mushroom gravy and then top with a fried egg.
  • jean

    does this actually work with ground minced pork for the hamburg patty?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Jean, I’ve never seen it made with pork, but I don’t see why not:-)

  • bumbutcha

    Hi Marc – thanks for posting your version of a local favorite. I’ve often thought of using okara as an ingredient in hamburger patties or meatloaf. In Hawaii it can be purchased fresh, usually seasoned w/sugar.

  • Mike Ho

    Thats because your ass doen’t no how to cook., Start off by cooking hard boiled eggs try not to burn them.

    • ann

      Please watch your language! You may not agree with the blogger but consider the time he puts in blogging and appreciate it.

    • jadegreen_eyz

      And yours doesn’t know how to spell, use punctuation or syntax. If you have a problem with the recipes here, please start your own blog.

  • G

    I travel to all islands for work and these are my two favorite places for Loco Moco:

    1) Liliha Bakery (Honolulu)- Grilled homemade hamburger patties with lots of rice and gravy
    2) Ishihara Market (Waimea) – Grilled homemade hamburgers, grilled onions, with a demi-glace rather than the standard brown gravy. Lots of rice and mac salad to boot.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Awesome, I’ll have to try them the next time I’m there!

  • KD

    Awe, thank you Marc; I love it! Your version is why the foods of Hawaii are so kapakahi (mixed up). A multicultural cross of recipes – a creation that belongs in norecipes! Really, everything goes & it all depends on who made it their style!! Thaz my family: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Haitian, Mexican, Native American, Korean; oh yeah & Welsh, Ukrainian, German, Italian, Finish… I’m certain I left someone out…
    I’m trying your version wiki wiki & suitably so given the darn cold temps in the SF bay area right now!

  • Emily

    Yes! This is really similar to what I had (although maybe just a bit of a bulldog-type sauce in the Japanese version). I will definitely try this. Thanks!

  • Doug

    Thank you, Mark, for posting this recipe! Having grown up in the islands, I have a love for the humble loco moco… Your version takes this basic dish and kicks it up several notches. Mahalo!

  • LocoMocoFan

    We recently went to Hawaii, visited The Pineapple Room and fell in love with this dish! This recipe is just as good or even better!! Awesome post! Thank you!

  • Ivy

    Amazing! I love loco moco. I will have to try this recipe out soon. Thanks!!

  • Jade

    On your next visit to Honolulu, hit up Aiea Bowl for their loco moco. A bit out of town, but in my opinion that’s the best one. They have a good patty and a good gravy. In my opinion, a so-so patty can be saved by an awesome gravy, but even an awesome patty can be ruined by an bad gravy. The Pineapple Room in Macy’s at Ala Moana is good, too, but a little more pricey than I like.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      So true! Thanks for the tips, I’ve added them to my list:-)

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