Taco Rice is a Mexican themed rice bowl dish that originated in Okinawa, a Japanese island far south of the rest of Japan. Although this is something they thought to be like the flavors of Mexico, its taste is very much altered to Japanese liking. Taco Rice does vaguely resemble Mexican food in terms of using ingredients like cooked ground beef, tomatoes and avocado, but other than that, it is not very Mexican at all. However, the dish became so popular in Okinawa that it is spreading out all over Japan, and now it can be seen in a lot of restaurants and cafes outside Okinawa.
Taco Rice was created in the 1980s by a restaurant owner who wanted to serve cheap but fulfilling food to American customers near a large US military base in Okinawa. It quickly became a hit menu item for Americans as well as locals. Taco Rice includes cooked ground beef and raw vegetables over rice. Instead of traditional Mexican spices like cumin and paprika, the meat is seasoned with ketchup and Worcester sauce. You can easily imagine this kind of taste is accepted well by people who like ketchup-flavored food such as Omu Rice and Neapolitan Spaghetti.
The most important components in the dish are cooked ground beef and rice. Other toppings can be basic lettuce and tomato or something else. Crunchy corn chips gives extra saltiness and texture, and cheese like jack and cheddar make the dish even richer. Chopped onion and cilantro will add more flavors if you like. Just mix and match however you want.
Taco Rice is not a typical Japanese food compared with traditional ones. This is one Japanese interpretation of Mexican food, and they turned into something of their own. Try this interestingly creative Okinawan local dish at home!
- 1/4 iceberg lettuce
- 1 tomato
- 1 avocado
- 1 onion
- 10 pieces tortilla chips
- 1/2 Tbsp oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 lb ground beef (225 g)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 Tbsp Worcester sauce
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 bowls steamed rice
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese, mozzarella or chedder
- Shred lettuce. Cut tomato and avocado into 1/2" (1.2 cm) cubes. Chop onion finely. Crush tortilla chips into coarse pieces.
- Heat oil in a frying pan with garlic. When the pan gets hot, cook meat, breaking it apart at medium high heat. When meat turns color, add onion, and cook until onion is tender. Add salt, ketchup, Worcester sauce, and chili powder, and cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.
- Put half of rice on a plate with half of lettuce, tomato, and avocado. And then put half of the cooked meat, cheese, and tortilla chips on top. Repeat for a second serving.