Okinawan Taco Rice

Okinawan taco rice is a local interpretation of Americanised Mexican food which has now become popular all over Japan. You can serve this in a bowl, but it’s tastier if you serve it in a pan set over a low heat at the table, so the rice slowly crisps as you eat it.

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Serves
2
Total Time
45 Minutes
Ingredients
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, cored & diced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 pinch of salt
Juice of ¼ lime
1 tbsp of oil, plus a little more, for oiling
200g of minced beef
80g of kimchi, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of black pepper
½ tsp of hot chilli powder, or more, to taste
2 tbsp of ketchup
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce or Tonkatsu Sauce
200g of rice, cooked according to the instructions
50g of mild cheddar or similar, grated
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 handful of shredded iceberg lettuce
1 egg yolk
Method
Step 1
Combine a quarter of the onion, half the tomato and half the garlic along with the salt and lime juice and stir to make a rough salsa.
Step 2
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the remaining onion and sauté for about 8 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Add the remaining garlic and tomatoes and continue to cook for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down, then add the beef, kimchi, if using, and all of the spices. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is cooked through and has browned in places. Add the ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.
Step 3
To serve, use a paper towel to spread a little oil around the surface of a well-seasoned pan. Pack the rice into the bottom of the pan and set over a medium heat on a portable stove at the table. Top with the taco meat, then the cheese, salsa, spring onions, lettuce and egg yolk. When you start to smell popcorn, switch off the heat – that means the rice is toasted nicely. To serve, mix everything well and eat straight from the pan. At the end of the meal, scrape off the crispy rice bits with a wooden spoon.

How To Cook Japanese Rice

  1. If you have a rice cooker, you should use that. If not, you’ll just need a saucepan with a snug-fitting lid and some scales.
  2. The ratio of rice to water for household quantities of rice is 1 to 1.3 by weight, and you’ll need about 100g of rice per serving. Weigh out the rice into a pan. Now, you’ll need to wash it. Fill the pan with water, then swish the grains around and massage them gently, then drain the water out and repeat this process three or four times. Drain the washed rice very well, then return to the pan and pour water measured in the correct ratio. Swirl it around a bit so the grains redistribute and settle in an even layer. If you have time, let the rice soak for 15-30 minutes, but don’t worry if you don’t.

  3. Place the pan on a high heat with the lid off, and bring to the boil. Place the lid on the pan and turn the heat way down to low. Set a timer for 15 minutes, then leave it to steam.

  4. If you have an induction hob, start the rice off on a medium or low heat; high heat on induction is too quick and intense, which makes the rice stick and burn almost immediately. Use caution, and let the water come to the boil slowly, stirring occasionally to make sure the grains aren’t catching.

  5. When the timer is up, turn off the heat and fluff the rice with chopsticks or a fork, using a slice-and-fold motion rather than a dig-and-scoop motion. Put the lid back on the pan and wait another 10 minutes so the residual steam continues to soften the grains and loosen the stuck rice from the bottom of the pan. Finally, give the rice another gentle fluffing, serve, and enjoy.

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