When you’re stupid enough to do the Pihea to Alakai Swamp trail (cuz it’s normal to find swamps at 4000 ft, right?) with a brief stop at the Kilohana lookout on your second day in paradise while it’s raining you’d think that besides the gorgeous vistas there’d be at least a doubloon or a nickel at the end of the rainbow. And there would be if you measured rewards by starchy rice topped with toothy hamburger patties drizzled with savory gravy and topped with a golden sunny-side up egg. After all of that slaloming in red mud on a trail where switchbacks are apparently for sissies (straight up and straight down, baybyyyyy!), you’ve done enough cardio to kick some cholesterol butt, right? Except we were too fresh off the plane to know this was one of our options. Don’t worry, some tasty bento lunches from one of the many delicious market delis containing 갈비 galbi (a sweetly savory marinated Korean BBQ usually made with beef short ribs) and laulau (salted butterfish and pork wrapped in taro and ti leaves and then steamed and served over rice) kept us from cannibalizing each other. So in all honesty, this is one of the many [sob] dishes that we weren’t able to try in Kauai but that wasn’t for lack of trying. Loco moco is so popular in Hawaii that it graces the blue plate special on many a menu and apparently also has a following in Japan as ロコモコ rokomoko (For reals!). So why didn’t I make time to gobble down a juicy burger patty sitting atop carby rice topped with savory gravy and crowned with a golden sunny side up egg with an unctuous golden liquidy yolk that soaks into everything? There’s only so many meals in a day made even more finite when on holiday and when you’re kayaking upstream through the valley of wild chickens with all your essentials squashed into a dry bag that patty much less lovely yolk will be smashed mush cuz the hubster doesn’t think it’s a vacation unless copious amounts of NSAIDs and ice packs are involved.
So regrets aside, you don’t have to live in paradise to partake of this hearty Hawaiian favorite. I’ve used lean ground beef so that I can add back tender, flavorful fat in the form of smoky bacon but ground sausage or 80% lean ground beef would also work great. I’ve also added some spinach just to
keep myself from having a heart attack try to make this a little healthier as well as give your taste buds a break from all the decadence. The parsley and Worcestershire sauce give you astringency and tang respectively to counterbalance the fat and the tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce in the gravy gives it a piquant finish while the fried shallots add some needed textural crunch. This is usually served for lunch or dinner but I can see it easily working for any hordes of hungry breakfasters that happen to descend on you as well. If you’re just making this for 1 or two people just freeze the patties in individual zip bags to be thawed out for the next time the urge for decadent hearty Hawaiian goodness strikes you, just make sure you’ve climbed a mountain or two first 😉
If you only needed to know 1 thing …
Besides overcooked hamburger, there are few things more disappointing than rubbery, rock hard burgers. So, how to keep your burgers tender yet toothy? The less you handle the meat the better cuz the more you mix and pat trying to make a perfectly homogenous mixture or the most disc-like of patties, the more the meat compacts down giving you something you’d rather use for frisbee golf than eat.
6 large eggs
2 + 1 tbsp minced sweet onion
1 + 1 tsp (2 cloves) crushed garlic
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves
2 + 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb 90-95% lean ground beef
2 strips bacon, minced
2 + 2 + 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 c low-salt beef stock
3 c baby spinach
6-8 c steamed rice
2 tbsp fried shallots, optional
Tabasco sauce, optional
Fill a large mixing bowl with hot tap water and warm your refrigerated eggs for ~10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl stir together 2 tbsp onion, 1 tsp garlic, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Add beef and bacon and mix together with your hands until just combined. It doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform as the more you
overhandle your meat, the tougher and more compacted your patties will be. Form meat mixture into 6 1-inch thick by 4-inch in diameter patties and refrigerate till ready to use.
In a small saucepan melt butter and stir in flour to form a roux (sticky white paste), don’t let it brown as this isn’t Cajun gravy 😉 Stir in remaining 1 tsp garlic and 1 tbsp onion and sauté till fragrant ~1 minute. Add stock and remaining 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce then simmer till thickened to the consistency you like and turn off heat. I like to reduce it to 1/2-1/3 of the original volume.
While gravy is simmering fry your sunny side up eggs. In a large skillet over med-lo heat, heat 2 tsp olive oil till aromatic but not smoking. Fry two eggs till the white is opaque but the yolk is still liquid. Remove eggs from heat and set aside and repeat with remaining eggs and another 2 tsp olive oil.
In another large skillet heat remaining 2 tsp olive oil over med-hi heat till aromatic but not smoking. Sauté patties in batches till a brown crust forms on the bottom ~2-3 minutes then flip and brown on other side. On each plate place 1-1 1/2 c rice, top with 1/2 c spinach, then place patty on top of spinach. Spoon gravy over the patty (I like to use 2-3 tbsp) and top with an egg. Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and Tabasco if using. Garnish with shallots if using. Makes 6 servings with optional food coma. Aloha 🙂