Hawaii: Loco Moco Benedict

A little travel food blogging while I’m on vacation and not cooking!

Yesterday’s breakfast at Tango Cafe, which is a Swedish place recommended by a local. I bypassed all the Swedish fare and went for a loco moco benedict — a cross between a traditional Hawaiian loco moco and eggs benedict. A big stack of fried rice with plenty of meat in it, then braised beef on top, then a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Two of them! It was delicious, but a *lot* of rich food — I ate just one of the pair of them, and then rolled out the door. (Maybe it was unwise asking the probably 20-year-old young Hawaiian man serving us what he liked on the menu — I’m guessing he consumes twice as many calories in a day as I can manage. 🙂 )

I didn’t know anything about Hawaiian food when I arrived here, so Jed kindly forwarded me a nice Wikipedia page with fascinating info — it reminds me of Sri Lankan food in many ways, with the different European influences. But also wildly different:
 
“The cuisine of Hawaii incorporates five distinct styles of food reflecting the diverse food history of settlement and immigration in the Hawaiian Islands.[a] In the pre-contact period of Ancient Hawaii (300 AD–1778), Polynesian voyagers brought plants and animals to the Islands. As Native Hawaiians settled the area, they fished, raised taro for poi, planted coconuts, sugarcane, sweet potatoes and yams, and cooked meat and fish in earth ovens. After first contact in 1778, European and American cuisine arrived along with missionaries and whalers, who introduced their own foods and built large sugarcane plantations. Christian missionaries brought New England cuisine[1] while whalers introduced salted fish which eventually transformed into the side dish lomilomi salmon.
 
As pineapple and sugarcane plantations grew, so did the demand for labor, bringing many immigrant groups to the Islands between 1850 and 1930. Immigrant workers from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Portugal arrived in Hawaii, introducing their new foods and influencing the region. The introduction of new ethnic foods, such as Chinese char siu bao (manapua), Portuguese sweet bread and malasadas, and the Japanese bento, combined with the existing indigenous, European, and American foods in the plantation working environments and in the local communities. This blend of cuisines formed a “local food” style unique to Hawaii, resulting in plantation foods like the plate lunch, snacks like Spam musubi, and dishes like the loco moco.”
 
And if you follow the link on the last: “Loco moco is a meal in the contemporary cuisine of Hawaii. There are many variations, but the traditional loco moco consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. “
 

Seeni Sambol Appetizer Experiment #3: Pastry Cups

I knew I wanted more richness for my appetizer, and that suggested a nice, buttery pastry. So I asked Kevin to make up a batch of Sri Lankan patty pastry dough (he’s my bread guy), rolled it out fairly thinly, cut it small, and put the rounds into my mini muffin pan.

 

I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to just fill and bake, or blind bake a cup and then fill it, so I tried both. I forgot to dock the pie cups, so about half my blind-baked pastry cups puffed up to an unusable level. But some of them came out perfectly, so I was able to try both options.

 

I’m a little torn there, honestly, because I think it tastes just slightly better when you cook the seeni sambol in with the pastry — but the oil does discolor the pastry, so it doesn’t look quite as neat and party-ready. I think I would blind-bake and fill just before the party, if I were going to do these.

They’re quite good, even without the egg, and topped with hard-boiled egg, they’re delicious. This one was almost perfectly what I wanted it to be — but could it be just a little bit better? Yes, yes it could. Let’s give this an A- for now, and look to the next post for the winner…

Ambitions

I probably should’ve taken it easier today, eaten leftovers instead of trying to cook, but I had told Kevin that I’d make steak and kale salad while he had a long day on campus, and I wanted to have that for him. So even though I had done computer work all day (catching up on overdue things from surgery time, getting the new website up and running), and was feeling exhausted, I powered through and made the food (leaving the kitchen something of a disaster).

It’s all tasty, but I think both Kev and I would agree that leftovers would have been the wiser choice. Sometimes I get an idea in my head, and I have a really hard time scaling it down to something more practical, and then I fall down.

We’re trying to get the whole family to eat a little healthier, as we all have something of a genetic tendency to plumpness (and also like sitting around way too much of the time with our devices, which is another thing to work on, but that’s another problem…) But the kids are still very dubious of much of our food, esp. anything spicy. If we’re cooking two separate meals, pizza and pasta for the kids are so easy, but they really could use a more varied diet (with more appreciation of vegetables). It’s going to be a bit of a challenge, making the time. Important, though. Going to have to strategize.

My secret wish is to make time to start cooking twice a week with Kavya in a very focused way — ideally, one Sri Lankan recipe / week, which she may or may not like, and one American recipe that she is almost certain to like. The very ambitious version of this would have me recording video and audio and then using some of it for either podcast or little website videos.

But that may be more than anyone has energy for, esp. given how time-consuming editing is — if I just cook with her, that’s the important part. A resolution for next New Year? We’ll see. Maybe the new website will help.