Taco Rice & Cheese タコライス

taco rice and cheese

We’ve got a favorite dinner around here, and it comes from Okinawa, Japan.

No, it’s not sushi. It doesn’t involve seafood either. Or teriyaki. Or anything else that you might expect out of Japan.

Jason was in the Marines for several years, and stationed in Okinawa for part of that time. With all the US military running around on that island… there’s been a blend of cultures. And as a result, restaurants in Okinawa serve a popular dish called “Taco Rice and Cheese.”

Go ahead, Google it. It’s even on Wikipedia. And you can become a fan on Facebook.

There are variations on the recipe, but the basic idea is you take steamed rice, top it with taco-seasoned ground beef, cheese, hot sauce, and sometimes shredded lettuce. The result? Yummy Japanese-American-Mexican Comfort Food!

I am so happy Jason introduced me to this dish. We have it way too often, but it’s soooo good.

Our version consists of the following ingredients:

Taco Rice & Cheese ingredients

Medium-grain rice, ground beef, taco seasoning mix, mild cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, a yellow onion, a clove of garlic, Taco Bell hot sauce, and sliced black olives (with Jalapenos if you like things spicy).

Steamed rice

Oh hey look at my dirty stove!

I start off by cooking the rice according to the package directions. When Jason first told me about this dish, I wanted to resist the medium-grain rice and insist on using long grain. It seemed more mexican-y that way. But I should have listened. The softness of the medium grain rice really makes a big difference. But hey, if you want to use long grain rice, or brown rice, or whatever, that’s up to you.

While the rice is cooking, I dice up the onion… pretty fine pieces so it blends into the meat. This ingredient in taco meat is another thing Jason introduced me to that I initially resisted. Where I come from, we never added anything to taco meat except the seasoning packet. But now, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

I start the onion cooking in some olive oil, and mince up 1 garlic clove, which I add in after the onion has cooked a few minutes, so the garlic doesn’t burn. Once the onion has started to turn translucent, I add the ground beef and brown it… just until I don’t see much pink.

Then I drain the meat really really well. Add in the taco seasoning packet, about 3/4c of water, and a little bit of the hot sauce. How much hot sauce I put in depends on how much meat there is. I add the sauce to stretch the seasoning if there’s too much meat.

taco meat

I let the meat mixture simmer on low heat for a while… at least 5 minutes, or as long as 15 minutes depending on how hungry I am. Meanwhile the rice is probably done by now, but it can just sit there on the stove with the lid on and the heat turned off until the rest of the meal is ready.

While the meat is simmering, I grate the cheese. I never do just cheddar or just jack… always a mix of both. Jason insists that the “authentic” recipe uses Colby-Jack. But I get a little picky about what I consider “weird cheeses.” I know, I know… it’s my issue. Colby-jack is not a weird cheese.

Anyway… when everything is done, the ingredients are layered in a large bowl… rice, then meat, then cheese, then olives and hot sauce.

taco rice and cheese

Yum! I’m having the leftovers for lunch today.

2 comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Jenn 
    October 12th, 2009 5:16 pm

    That sounds weird, but I bet it’s good. One of Scott’s favorite things I (occasionally, because I don’t love it) make is a traditional Caesar salad with taco meat mixed in. I might have to give this a try, because Scott loves anything with taco seasoning.

  2. Holly 
    October 12th, 2009 6:09 pm

    That looks delicious! I love taco inspired anything!

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