Hawaiian Loco Moco Breakfast: The legend, the love…and a lighter version.
If you’ve spent some time in Hawaii, you have probably experienced (or at least wondered about) the Loco Moco plate found on local menus.
Loco Moco is a traditional Hawaiian meal consisting of a pile of sticky white rice, topped with a thick hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy all over the top. Here’s a look at one from this Huffington Post Taste article.
I know, I know…
It’s tasty. It’s filling. And...it’s loaded with some of the things we’re not supposed to eat very often.
Well before we talk health food and all of that, let’s talk story. Because this Loco Moco plate has a bit of a history to it.
The story is that the Loco Moco was born on the Big Island, in the town of Hilo, in the 1940s. According to one debated legend — it began at the Lincoln Grill, where Nancy Inouye, the wife-owner of the grill was trying to satisfy a group of hungry neighborhood kids who couldn’t afford the other menu items. She came up with this cheap and filling combination, then wrote it on her menu board, asking her husband Richard (the restaurant’s cook) what she should call it. He said, “The kids are crazy. Call it Loco Moco.”
There is another legend that this meal is named after the first boy to eat one; he was nicknamed Loco.
However the story came to be, we know that the loco moco stuck. And spread. And today you’ll find this very meal in many local restaurants on all of the islands. Occasionally the hamburger patty is replaced by a slab of Spam. (Again, I know.) The combination of ingredients in the loco moco is a classic mash-up of cultures, which represents the melting pot that is Hawaii: A little Asian, a little American, and a little…gravy? (who gets credit for gravy anyways?)
Well I’m not against a little loco moco now and then. (Remember, I major in moderation.) But for the every day post-surf meal, I have created a lightened-up version for my boys.
We start with a brown rice/quinoa blend. Top it with turkey bacon, fresh spinach and/or avocado, then top it with an egg (scrambled or fried.) I haven’t found an alternative to the gravy, but so far we haven’t missed it. There’s plenty of flavor in this delicious plate.
No, it’s NOT real kine loco moco. But it’s got some of the same feel, and it is definitely a little better for you.
I know a lot of you have visited (or live in) Hawaii, so I hope you’ll share your stories of trying the real loco moco~ Did you try it? Did you love it?
And also, I always wonder: Do you eat rice with eggs where you live?
Maybe this weekend is your time to try a loco moco, one way or the other! 🙂
Pin and share to spread the Aloha…Mahalos!!
PS More breakfast ideas!? Have you tried my crunchy french toast ? How about my (easy) quick-rise cinnamon rolls? Maybe you need a healthy smoothie to wash that down? 🙂
I am a loco moco fanatic. I wanted to make it more healthy too so I use quinoa or spiralized zucchini. I don’t eat beef so I use left over turkey burgers. However, the gravy is the best part for me so I use a gluten free gravy or vegan gravy. I eat this at least once a week. Seriously, this would be my choice for a last meal. May it never come to that!
oh that is so fun, thank you for sharing!! Love that you have toyed with it and still remain committed…Well done Debi! aloha-
Nice your healthy version looks so much nicer than the original, not a great fan of burgers. However, the mixture of rice, egg and bacon with fresh ingredients looks amazing can’t wait to try this out.
Rice, eggs and avo … my three favourite things!! Going to try this this weekend 🙂
Loving real kine loco moco! I gonna try the healthier version as well;-) Thanks for the recipe, Monica!
Btw, just read an article in the Honolulu Magazine (restaurant guide) about loco moco…you can get it with a fancy lobster tail and fois gras as well😳
Thank you Rabea! That’s so funny–I better go find the Honolulu Magazine. I guess loco moco is on everyone’s mind these days! 😉 Much Aloha to you-
I never heard of loco moco, but my family has been making “breakfast rice” for years. Its more like your recipe. Fried next day rice, with garlic, pepper, soy sauce, chopped bacon, and a fried egg on top. We are asian mixed so rice is always around.
I like the addition of spinich and avo! I have tried to get my fam on brown rice but they just can’t get used to not eating their jasmine sticky rice..lol
I wonder if my grandpa picked up our fam recipe during WW2 when he was stationed in Hawaii..? Wish I could find out. Loved learning this fun legend 🙂
Oh cool, thank you Nica! I wonder about your Grandpa too! The timing is about right, isn’t it? 🙂 So glad you shared. Much Aloha! XO
OH My, we are making that! Anything with eggs and bacon is a winner in my house. We rarely make a big breakfast in the morning, but we love some breakfast food! In Virginia, we would do this with hashbrowns as the base and a little hotsauce on top of the egg. Yes ma’am!
Oh good Paige! I didn’t mention in the post, but I also love this because it’s so easy to use leftover rice…Just make a little extra the night before and it’s so easy to throw this meal together! Hope you have a new go-to when your family craves a hot breakfast! 🙂 XO