Welcome to Fujimama, longtime Tasty Kitchen member and new contributor to the TK Blog. So happy to see you here! (And I’ve never wanted taco rice as much as I do right now. And it’s 6:53 am.) Take it away, Fujimama! –PW
When you hear the words “Taco Rice” I suspect that Japan is not the first country that pops into your mind. But Taco Rice, or Takoraisu as it’s called in Japan, is a popular Okinawan dish invented in the 1960s by a Japanese chef who took the idea of tacos, so popular among the American military stationed on Okinawa, and combined it with rice, a staple item in the Okinawan diet. The dish has since become, ironically enough, one of the most well-known Okinawan dishes. Its popularity has also spread into other parts of Japan.
When I lived in Tokyo there were many cafes that offered it on their lunch menus. One of the last meals I ate before moving back to the US was takoraisu. I was pregnant with my second child and takoraisu totally hit the spot. I’m not surprised, as takoraisu is total comfort food. Not only do you not have to worry about handling any awkward taco shells or worry about them going soggy, but takoraisu is traditionally eaten with a spoon, so all you have to do is shovel it in.
Even better? Takoraisu is so easy to make.
You start by steaming some Japanese white rice (a short grain rice, often labeled as “sushi rice” here in the US). If you want your rice to be less sticky, you will need to rinse it before cooking it. This removes the powdery starch that builds up around the grains during transport. To rinse rice, put the rice in a bowl, fill it with cold water, and swish the rice gently around with your fingers. Pour the water out (keeping the rice in the pan with your hand), and repeat the process until the water is clear.
I make things even easier by cooking my rice in a rice cooker. (I’m lazy, what can I say?)
Once you’ve got your rice cooking, chop some tomatoes …
And shred some lettuce.
Then prepare your cheese. In Japan, recipes for takoraisu usually call for “pizza cheese,” a mild white cheese similar to mozzarella. You can use shredded mozzarella, but I like using crumbled queso blanco, a delicious and affordable Mexican cheese.
Then you make some seasoned beef by first heating some oil in a saute pan. Sauté onions, garlic, ground beef, and seasonings until everything is cooked through and fragrant.
All that’s left to do is build your takoraisu! Start with a bed of hot steamed rice, and layer the seasoned beef, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cheese, some salsa, and a dollop of sour cream on top.
Now comes the best part: EATING!
Taco Rice, or “Takoraisu” as it’s called in Japan, is a popular Okinawan dish invented in the 1960s by a Japanese chef who took the idea of tacos, so popular among the American military stationed on Okinawa, and combined it with rice, a staple item in the Okinawan diet. The dish has since become, ironically enough, one of the most well-known Okinawan dishes.
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 cup Onion, Chopped
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Table Salt
- 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 4 cups Steamed Japanese Rice (sometimes Labeled "sushi Rice")
- 2 cups Lettuce, Shredded
- 2 cups Tomatoes, Chopped
- 12 ounces, weight Queso Blanco, Crumbled OR 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 cup Salsa
- 4 Tablespoons Sour Cream
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until the onions are barely soft. Add the ground beef and break it into small chunks. Once the meat is cooked, add the soy sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Let this simmer until the liquid reduces.
2. Spread 1/2 to 1 cup of the steamed rice on each plate. Top with the seasoned beef.
3. Then top with the shredded lettuce, tomatoes, queso blanco (or mozzarella), and salsa, and finish it off with a dollop of sour cream.
Visit Rachael’s blog, La Fuji Mama, where she shares more than just her vast knowledge of Japanese cuisine. She has great travel photos, product reviews, and all sorts of food ninja-ness. You’ll also enjoy seeing more photos of her adorable girls, Squirrel and Bug. (And no, those aren’t their real names.)