The Loco Moco is a comfort food favorite from the Hawaiian Islands. Deemed as traditional local food, the basic elements of the dish are steamed rice, hamburger patties, brown gravy and a fried egg. For our version we made a rich gluten-free mushroom gravy and added sauteed onions for a scrumptious meal.
Japanese Hambāgu Loco Moco
The first time I ever tasted a Loco Moco, it just clicked in my mind. How awesome is this dish in its’ most simple form. I have had many different versions over the years. It is a personal favorite and a comfort food deeply supplanted in my memory. One of the best versions ever was an ultra tender short rib Loco Moco with a super rich red wine gravy and fried rice. I found the best way to control how I want to eat this dish, is to prepare this at home. A great side dish is local style macaroni or potato salad.
Where did Loco Moco come from?
I’m taking a break from salmon and using the free grass-fed Angus beef that I received with my Crowd Cow order. The Loco Moco originated in the Hawaiian Islands and became one of the many comfort food classics. What is Hawaiian local food? Not to be confused with traditional Hawaiian food, local food has it’s own category and history. To simply define “local food”, it is a melting pot of different cultures that evolved from the early immigrants, missionaries, plantation worker, laborers and even military that settled in Hawaii. Take the contribution of Polynesians, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch, Filipino, Japanese, American and European settlement. Combine this with the rich diversity of food sources in a tropical environment. Voila! Unbelievable cuisine with a rich cultural diversity.
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It’s all in the Ingredients
It starts with the grass-fed beef which is healthier for us. For some there is a slightly different flavor that we are accustomed too when compared with commodity ground beef. What I like is the traceability and knowing that this is Australian free-range beef raised by Tey’s with no antibiotics or hormones. I wanted a burger patty similar to the Japanese hamburger patties that I love. The Japanese refer to this as Hambāgu (ハンバーグ) or hamburger steak.
Inspired by hambāgu, I used Kurobuta ground pork in the mix. I admit that I had to use some flour in the patties, but the mushroom gravy is gluten-free and made from scratch. For the steamed rice, I used Hitomebori rice. I prefer Japanese style white rice which is not too dry or mushy but a perfect balance when cooked properly. I always recommend a good rice cooker or a consistent stovetop method. With the gravy I used Clover Farms butter. The egg is the final essential component so I went with quality which is Vital Farms pasture raised eggs.
Grass grazing, free roaming in natural outdoor pastures for life.crowd cow
PREPARING LOCO MOCO
Start with the making the burger patties or the gravy first. I chose to broil the patties in the oven as opposed to grilling or pan frying. They browned really nicely and puffed up with the juices ready to burst. Just looking at them makes my mouth water. Ultimately, the choice was less mess and less clean-up.
I was so close to adding grated daikon and serving ponzu on the side. Only an Asian will make food with gravy and a dipping sauce. It does sound good, but I think the dish is still perfect using just a little discipline to restrain myself.
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Form into 4 separate patties (5 oz) each.
At this point, stop and start the mushroom gravy (SEE RECIPE BELOW).
Set oven to broil.
Place patties on a baking sheet lined with foil. Place the sheet on a medium high oven rack.
Cook patties for 5-7 minutes on each side. Cooking time is dependent on how you like you burgers cooked and the thickness of your patties. We cooked ours for 6 minutes on each side with a 4″ diameter patty and they were cooked all the way through. If you are going by temperature, the center of each patty should be at 160F.
While, the burger patties are cooking sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook over medium heat until well caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside till ready to place.
Remove burger patties from the oven and rest for 3 minutes.
Make sure that you have a small whisk ready to go. I have been very successful with gluten-free gravy, but it does take whisking and cooking down the wheat substitues to get the correct gravy texture.
Heat 3 teaspoons oil in a small sauce pot over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. I mentioned the process of properly cooking mushrooms in other blogs. Mushrooms contain moisture so the cooking time may vary. They must first release their liquid which will evaporate before the browning process starts. Once the mushrooms are browned, remove them from the pot.
Next, melt the butter in the pot. Add the garlic and onions.
Cook until the butter begins to brown slightly. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
Whisk in the flour. It will result in a thick clump, but just keep moving it around to cook the ingredients in the flour.
Add the sherry, but continue to whisk continuously to break up any clumps. Cook for 1 minute.
Whisk in the beef stock. Keep whisking till the gravy starts to appear smooth and reduce heat to medium low.
Add the Worcestershire, sugar and bay leaf. As the gravy starts to bubble, continue too whisk. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook at a low simmer for 15 minutes whisking occasionally.
Once the gravy has a smooth texture and consistency, turn the heat too low until ready to use. It has a caramel color from the lighting, but it gets darker with a nice brown the longer it simmers.
*Tasting Notes: In the beginning the gravy will taste gritty because of the gluten-free flour. Whisking and cooking time will create a smooth texture that is just as good if not better than any brown gravy you have ever had.
I would recommend frying the eggs last. Sunny-side up or over-easy are the most common methods for Loco Moco. If you prefer poached eggs, these can be done ahead of time and set aside.
Fill four bowls with steamed rice.
Add your Hambāgu patty and sautéed onions.
Ladle the mushroom gravy over the burger patties. Top with the fried egg and serve immediately.
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RELATED ARTICLE: A Look Inside an American Wagyu Ranch
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