“Easy taco rice made with simple ingredients! A quick & flavorful dinner idea inspired by traditional Okinawa takoraisu!”
Visual learner? Watch me make this taco rice from start to finish!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been all about quick and easy dinners these days. Maybe it’s because I’ve been cooking nonstop or the fact that because of quarantine, I can’t just go out and grab whatever dinner I want.
Yesterday as I was flipping through my dinner recipe collection, I pulled out this recipe for Taco Rice (or Takoraisu as they say in Okinawa!)
My sister gave me this recipe while stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I found the combo a bit strange; a Tex-Mex meets Japanese tease? Interesting.
Taco rice was all the rage at a restaurant called The Banyan Tree on her military base. She’d tell me stories about the crazy typhoons, delicious food, beautiful scenery, and friendly people of Okinawa, Japan. I couldn’t wait to experience a taste of her new world.
That was many years ago, and Taco Rice has become a part of our regular dinner line up for busy days. It’s one of those recipes that’s so easy to make with everyday ingredients. It’s a nice change to Taco Night (move over chicken taco salad) and was a great addition when we were studying Okinawa for homeschool!
Authentic Okinawan Taco Rice?
I can no longer call this recipe traditional Okinawan Taco Rice, though. I’ve strayed from the original recipe quite a bit, adding things that my family prefers. We’ve replaced the “pizza cheese” (similar to mozzarella) as they say in Okinawa with mild cheddar or Colby Jack. I also add on a ton of toppings instead of the traditional tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and salsa.
Oh, and I also use boiled long-grain rice like Basmati (our favorite rice) instead of steamed short-grain Japanese rice. I also added more spices and less soy sauce to the meat mixture.
What toppings to use on Taco Rice?
Here are the toppings that my family likes on their taco rice, but feel free to use any of your favorite taco toppings. Keep it simple and classic or load it up!
6. Sour cream
7. Black Olives
Best Taco Rice Tip: Mix it ALL UP!!
While taco rice looks so pretty arranged in layers on a plate, we’ve found the flavors really get amazing when you mix it all up! Sure it’s not the prettiest but when that rice gets coated in sour cream, salsa and guacamole and the cheese begins to melt under that hot rice and spicy beef….mercy! It’s a flavor explosion in your mouth!
Season the Rice or Not?
If you prefer more seasoning on your rice you can cook it in chicken broth. I usually just boil the rice in water seasoned with salt and pepper. Sometimes I’ll add in chopped cilantro and a splash of fresh lime when it’s done. Really though, it’s perfectly fine kept plain. The other flavors like the spicy beef, cheese and fresh toppings will give it a boost.
I hope you guys enjoy this simple recipe as much as my family does. Hopefully one day we will be able to go to Okinawa and experience the real thing!
Easy Taco Rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions diced
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/3 cup water may need a bit more
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 packet taco seasoning (or see seasoning recipe I used below in notes)
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 cup Basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt & pepper (enough to make the water taste seasoned)
- iceburg lettuce shredded
- tomatoes diced
- cheese shredded
- sour cream
- black olives (optional)
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil in a large skillet.
- Add onions and saute until tender.
- Add in garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add in beef and cook until browned.
- Drain the fat from the pan.
- Pour in water, soy sauce and sprinkle on the taco seasoning.
- Stir until combined.
- Let mixture simmer until most of the liquid is absorb.
- Taste meat and add more seasonings if desired. (Add more water if needed)
- Keep warm until ready to serve.
- To make the rice, add water, butter and salt and pepper into a pot.
- Bring to a boil and pour in the rice. Stir.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
- Simmer for 12-15 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Let rice sit covered off heat for about 10 minutes.
- Stir to fluff the rice.
- To prepare, plate the hot rice, and top with warm beef. Add desired toppings. Serve hot!
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper