The Loco Moco, a Hawaiian breakfast prepared by Brother in Arms
In this space, I'll be bringing you recipes and food stories from the globe's most cookin-est DJs, paired with carefully selected music for culinary enhancement.
Today, we travel to San Francisco for some tropical brunch with J Boogie and Deejay Theory who, when joined together, are known as Brother In Arms. After years as solo producers making reggae and hip-hop mutations for the dancefloor—working with everybody from People Under The Stairs to Mark Farina, Sizzla, and Grandtheft—the two have joined forces to make major waves in the tropical disco scene. Fittingly, they whipped us up some brunch straight from the islands.
Read on for Theory's misadventures in Hawaiian cuisine and J Boogie's tales of hunting for Island Records' Chris Blackwell's prized rum.
THUMP: Good morning to you Brother In Arms. It's about noontime here in San Francisco and you guys are about to fix us some brunch. Any grand thoughts about the importance of brunch?
J Boogie: Brunch in San Francisco is like going out on a Friday night—it's so crowded and there are hotspots. If I get up hungover I don't want to deal with fashionable people looking cool. I just need to hang out and get some fuel. I just want to get something happening. Plus, my chef capabilities don't really go far beyond breakfast.
Are either of you currently hungover?
Deejay Theory: Nope.
Boogie: Not me.
I kind of am.
Boogie: You'll be our test subject.
Great. So what are we cookin'?
Theory: I'm making a traditional Hawaiian breakfast dish called Loco Moco. My fiancée grew up in Hawaii and she turned me on to this. There are four main elements. The first is white rice. It has to be the hood shit. If it's basmati or brown grain it won't jell together. So it's sticky hood rice, ground beef patty, brown gravy and a fried egg or two. I'm going to do a sunny side up egg—you can do whatever. Normally it's a mushroom gravy, but I'm trying mushrooms in the patty today. You could make it as hood or as gourmet as you want. You could have the illest wagu or you could have corner store gravy packets. You could make this for two dollars. It cost me a lot more than that.
Is this tough to make if you're really hungover?
Theory: Maybe this isn't quite the easiest thing. If you're really hungover bad, maybe make spam and eggs.
Boogie: Shouldn't you be cooking the rice right now?
Theory: [Kneading hamburger patty] Oh shit.
Boogie: You're good. I got it.
So J Boogie, tell me about this smoothie you're going to make.
Boogie: I'm famous for smoothies because it's the only thing I do well. I do it exceptionally well. I'm a fan of fruits, it's easy and you got your tropical vibes. Plus, you can mix it with the hair of the dog—throw some rum in there.
While I was in Jamaica I got into discussions with bartenders and tried a bunch of different Jamaican rums. We stayed at this place called GoldenEye which is [Island Records founder] Chris Blackwell's resort. I've been obsessed with [Island Records house band] Compass Point All Stars and the whole disco reggae thing from back in the day. This is Chris Blackwell's rum—his family's whole history of being in Jamaica is the rum business. It's called Blackwell Rum and it's fuckin' tasty-ass rum.
This Smatt's is a sipping rum. If you want to drink rum straight this is what you want. I feel like it's directly marketed to white guys in SF who love reggae—it's got the ship and the Jamaican flag on there [laughs]. I spent a lot on the duty free on the way out.
You guys are both pretty heavy on the tropical vibe, but neither of you are from the tropics. What's up with that?
Boogie: Is it because we both spent time in cold places? When you are in a non-tropical place you have these fantasies of Carribean vibes and bad tropical drinks and florescent neon green shorts like Theory is wearing. We're both super into reggae but we're also are both into this new kind of tropical sound—laid back disco mixed with house music. Stuff you could hear at the beach. We're a big fan of the French Express type of vibe, poolside.
What should folks listen to while they cook this?
Boogie: How about Bits & Pieces and Sly & Robbie's "Don't Stop The Music."
Sounds dope. Let's eat.
J Boogie's Purple Power Smoothie
2 cups fresh or frozen berry blend (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry)
2 cups fresh or frozen pineapple
3 heaping tablespoon dollops of yogurt (Fage)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup almond milk
1 cup coconut water
Hangover helper additions:
1 shot gold or dark rum (Blackwell, Smatt's, Zaya, Appleton)
1 shot light rum (Mount Gay, Flor de Caña, Wray and Nephew)
Extra healthy additions:
1 scoop of green superfood
1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
1 tablespoon hemp seed
1. Blend ingredients
2. Add little tiny umbrellas, purple straw and fresh mint for garnish
1 bag enriched white rice, look for "calrose" on the bag and you're good
1/3rd lb ground beef per patty or frozen corner store beef patties
For the gravy:
Approximately 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2-3 tbsp clarified or regular butter
1 tbsp "Better than Bouillon" beef base or a corner store packet of brown gravy
1 egg per patty
Instructions (for non corner-store ingredients):
1. Start the rice. Give a few good rinses before cooking to get the extra starch out. Follow the cooking directions- since this is corner store rice, they should be on the bag.
2. Make a simple roux: melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan, then mix in flour in small bits. Combine the beef stock (about a tablespoon) into a bowl with about 1 cup of hot water to dissolve. Stir that mixture in with the flour and butter and voila, a bomb and simple beef gravy is born. To go extra boss cook down some chopped shallots and mushrooms and throw that in the mix.
3. Hand form the patties to your liking. I ended up chopping some crimini mushrooms into the patty, a first over here but definitely won't be the last. I also mix in fresh or powdered garlic, salt, cracked pepper. Nothing too wild for this.
4. Broil patties on high for about 5 minutes, flip the burgers and broil for another 5 or so.
5. Fry an egg in butter, over-easy or sunny side up
6. Plate as follows. Serving of rice on the bottom, then patty, then gravy, then egg on top. Garnish with chopped green onion.
7. Locate nearest hammock.
JBoogie and Deejay Theory are Brother In Arms. Follow them on SoundCloud.