Taco Rice (タコライス)

    Taco Rice in a bowl

    Taco Rice is simple to prepare, making it a popular home-cooked meal, and it’s also found on the menus of many restaurants and cafés across Japan. The dish’s popularity has even spread beyond Japan, and you may find variations or interpretations of Taco Rice in other parts of the world.

    What is Taco Rice?

    close up taco rice

    Taco Rice, or タコライス (Takoraisu) in Japanese, is a popular Okinawan dish that combines elements of Mexican and Japanese cuisines. It’s a fusion dish originating in Okinawa, Japan, and has become a beloved comfort food nationwide. Tacoraisu typically consists of seasoned ground meat (often beef or pork) cooked with taco seasoning and served on a bed of rice. They usually accompany the meat mixture with toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sometimes salsa or other condiments. The way you eat it is similar to minced rice or dry curry.  Locals usually serve this with tomato-based red salsa, but tomato ketchup is sometimes substituted at popular restaurants and bento shops. The dish is known for its flavorful and savoury profile, combining the familiar tastes of tacos with the staple Japanese ingredient, rice.

    Taco Rice History

    taco rice in black plate with spoon beside

    Taco Rice, a tasty fusion dish, first introduced in 1984 by Shozo Giho, the founder of Parlor Senri in Okinawa, Japan. Originally running a bar, Giho noticed the Marines tightening their budgets due to currency changes and decided to offer more affordable and filling meals. Spotting a vacant property, he began serving a dish combining tacos and rice, a popular bar snack. Some theories suggest it was initially a staff meal. The dish gained popularity at Parlor Senri and spread across Okinawa through affiliated restaurants like King Taco. In Mexico, where the term “taco” originates, the dish is named “taco-rice” for its taco ingredients served on rice. Notably, the manga “The Ambassador’s Chef” features an alternate tale, attributing the creation to Megumi Tamashiro and U.S. Army soldier Jimmy Byrd in 1964, but this is a fictional storyline, clarified in the 12th volume’s disclaimer.

    Why is Okinawa Hormel’s taco rice so delicious? 

    taco rice in white bowl

    The secret to its deliciousness lies in the unique blend of flavors and carefully selected ingredients. Contrary to what some might think, tacoraisu doesn’t actually contain octopus— inspired by the Mexican dish “taco.” The dish originated in 1984 in Kin Town, Okinawa, where it quickly gained popularity. Today, tacoraisu is well-loved and also considered a soulful dish in Okinawa. Okinawa Hormel’s Taco Rice stands out with its taco meat, made from high-quality ingredients, slow-simmered, and infused with a special mix of spices, resulting in a deliciously flavorful and spicy experience.

    Taco rice arrangement idea

    taco rice arranged beautifully

    The original taco rice was a simple dish using only rice and taco meat, but now it is common to top rice with various toppings. Some also come with toppings such as avocado or teriyaki chicken. 

    Arrangement 1. Omutako rice (Omutako)

    One of the popular arrangement ideas is “Omutako rice”. The arrangement is easy, just make a thinly fried egg in a separate frying pan and place it on top of the taco rice. With the added mellowness and deliciousness of eggs, you can enjoy a slightly luxurious taco rice.

    Arrangement 2. Healthy taco rice

    If you want to eat taco rice healthily, we recommend using tofu tacos by replacing the minced meat with tofu. Making tofu tacos is almost the same as making regular taco meat, just use drained tofu instead of ground meat. You can easily reduce the calories from taco rice by using these tofu tacos.

    Taco Rice FAQ

    What kind of food is taco?

    Taco rice is a combination of the Tex-Mex words “taco” and “rice.” Tacos, which are the origin of tacoraisu, are a dish made by wrapping taco meat, vegetables, salsa sauce, etc. in a dough called a tortilla. Tacos were brought to Okinawa Prefecture during the period of U.S. military rule, and after that, they began to serve tacos at restaurants around U.S. military bases.

    Is there also taco rice with octopus?

    Generally speaking, tacoraisu often refers to Okinawa Prefecture’s B-grade gourmet soul food. However, in Japan, tacoraisu with seafood octopus has been eaten since ancient times. However, rice containing octopus is now often called “octopus fried rice” or “octopus takikomi gohan.” In addition, “Tacoraisu with octopus” is sometimes introduced as one of the arranged recipes.

    Taco Rice Recipe

    taco rice with tomatoes on top

    Taco Rice Ingredients

    Ingredients of Taco Rice for 2 personsMeasurements
    Corn potage100g
    Strong flour 120g
    Olive oil14g
    Milk 80g
    Green leaf25g
    Tomato15g
    Shredded cheese (for raw consumption)50g
    Salad oil 7g
    Taco meat
    Mixed meat150g
    Onion 20g
    Salad oil7g
    Salt and pepper1.5g
    Ketchup 28g
    Worcestershire sauce14g
    Chili pepper 2.5g

    How to make Taco Rice?

    STEP
    Making the dough

    Add corn potage base, strong flour, olive oil, and milk to a bowl and mix. When it comes together, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Divide into 4 equal parts and roll out to 3mm thickness.

    STEP
    Frying the dough 

    Add vegetable oil to a frying pan, spread it thinly with kitchen paper, add the dough and fry on low heat for 5 minutes, then flip and fry for 3 minutes. Bake 4 pieces in the same way.

    Once baked, wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it moist!

    STEP
    Cut the vegetables

    Finely chop the onions. Cut the green leaves into strips and cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds.

    STEP
    Fry the vegetables

    Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan, add the minced meat, and fry over medium heat until it changes color. Add onions and fry until translucent.

    STEP
    Season to taste and serve

    Add salt, pepper, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, chili pepper, and tomato seeds and stir-fry until the liquid evaporates. Place green leaves, taco meat, shredded cheese, and tomatoes on top of the dough.

    Where to buy Taco Rice?

    Charlie Tacos (チャーリータコス)

    Enjoy with the original exquisite sauce from a long-established popular restaurant. It is Okinawa’s first taco specialty restaurant with a history of over 50 years. The tacos, which come with a soft shell and a choice of three toppings: beef, chicken, or tuna, are a famous Koza specialty and many loved it. The original sauce called “Charlie Sauce” is also the secret to its popularity, and Charlie Taco’s taco rice has plenty of that sweet and spicy sauce. 

    Address: 4-11-5 Chuo, Okinawa City
    Phone number: 098-937-4627
    Hours open: 11:00-21:00; Closed on Thursdays
    Website: https://tabelog.com/okinawa/

    Taco Rice in a bowl

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