leaner loco moco


With a pace slower than the Slow Coast, cuisine in Hawaii is a true blast from the past. I’ve just returned from a family vacation on the Big Island, and had my fair share of poke, spam musubi, and a real gut busting dish called Loco Moco, which reminds me of salisbury steak over rice. When you’re surfing all day or running up trails to see waterfalls, Loco Moco is a substantial way to start the day. And you can see it on the menu everywhere from restaurant cafes to even the airport(do not try the airport version).



It’s not clear who invented Loco Moco, but it’s been on menus since the late 1940s, and has been rumored to have its roots from Hilo. Another rumor is that it gets its name from a local, nicknamed “Loco,” which was slang for “cool.” Not unlike the Brazilian soccer team, young men in Hilo were once known by their nicknames. So a young patron walks into a shack that serves poke and rice, asks for a hamburger patty over rice, and oh yeah, throw some left over gravy over it, and an egg. And his name was “Loco,” and the cook decides to channel Dr. Seuss, and there you have not only a catchy name, but one really addictive dish.



leaner loco moco

leaner loco moco


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1-8 oz package of mushrooms thinly sliced(crimini was used it this recipe)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1 tbs heavy cream
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 4 small hawaiian onions thinly sliced(sweet onions)
  • 2 c beef broth
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Cooked white rice for four


  1. Carmelized onions: On med low heat, add 1 tbs. of olive oil to a pan, and sauté sliced onions for 10 minutes(stir constantly). Add 1/2 tsp salt and another tbs. of oil to onions, and sauté for another 10 minutes. Add soy sauce and vinegar and sauté for another 10 minutes.(Caramelized onions can be made a day ahead.)
  2. Make 4 beef patties 1/4" thick. Salt and pepper each, and cook in a skillet to your own preference.
  3. Gravy: In the same pan that hamburgers were cooked in, add sliced mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes(add 1 tsp of oil if pan is dry) on high heat. Add 1 tbs of butter and flour to pan, and cook for 30s. Deglaze pan with 2 c of beef broth. Reduce heat to low, add 1 tbs of heavy cream and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for 5 minutes or until gravy is thick but pourable.
  4. How to build Loco Moco: Rice goes on the bottom, then onions, and then beef patty, Smother with mushroom gravy and top with an egg sunny side up.

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