Taco Rice is an Okinawan dish mashing up Japanese and Texmex cuisine. With taco meat and an assortment of toppings on a bed of crispy rice, it's a quick and satisfying meal.
Taco Rice is a Japanese/Texmex dish with taco meat and an assortment of toppings on a bed of crispy rice.

One of my favorite things about food is how it’s constantly evolving based on the movement of people. Tex-Mex cuisine is just one example of a new style of cooking brought about by the mingling of culinary cultures. It’s brought us favorites like Chili Con Carne and Fajitas, but what happens when you put a bunch of people brought up on Texmex on a tropical island in southern Japan?

Taco Rice is a mashup of Japanese and Texmex cuisine with taco meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes on a bed of white rice.

Taco Rice!

Part rice bowl and part taco salad, it’s become a defining part of Okinawan cuisine thanks to the American military presence on the southern chain of islands. While i love a traditional Taco Rice, I’ve always wanted a little more crunch. That’s where I got the idea to pan-fry the rice until the bottom surface is as a crisp as a taco shell.

You can’t exactly pick it up, but the rice does form a wonderful golden brown crust on the bottom that tastes like rice cracker. Topped with savory taco meat that’s seasoned with chili powder and soy sauce, as well as cheese, shredded lettuce and tomatoes, Taco Rice is a testament to the ceaseless transformation of food as people migrate around the world.

What are some of your favorite cross-cultural dishes?

Crispy Taco RiceTaco Rice is an Okinawan dish mashing up Japanese and Texmex cuisine. With taco meat and an assortment of toppings on a bed of crispy rice, it’s a quick and satisfying meal.


  • CourseEntree
  • CuisineJapanese
  • Yield2 servings
  • Cooking Time15 minutes
  • Preperation Time10 minutes
  • Total Time25 minutes


For Beef
1 tablespoon
tomato paste
1 tablespoon
soy sauce
1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons
vegetable oil
115 grams
onions (~1/2 medium onion, minced)
7 grams
garlic (~1 large clove, minced)
1 teaspoon
chili powder
260 grams
ground beef
For Rice
1 tablespoon
vegetable oil
600 grams
cooked short-grain rice (~4 cups)
60 grams
cheddar cheese (shredded)
To Serve
100 grams
tomato (1 small tomato)
50 grams
lettuce (1 large leaf)
cilantro (for garnish)


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, soy sauce, and mirin.
  2. Get the bed of rice crisp in a cast iron skillet.

    Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the oil and press the cooked rice into an even layer in the pan. Fry the rice without stirring until crisp and golden brown on the bottom (about 7-12 minutes). Freshly cooked rice will take longer than day-old rice.

  3. Sauteeing onions to make Taco Rice.
    Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to a frying pan and saute the onions and garlic until they are tender and starting to brown.
  4. Caramelized onions and taco seasonings for Taco Rice.
    Add the chili powder and fry until the chili powder is fragrant.
  5. Add the ground beef and brown, using the edge of a spatula or paddle to break up the clumps into small crumbles.
  6. Taco meat with a Japanese Texmex seasoning
    When the beef is cooked and there is no liquid left in the pan, add the tomato paste mixture and fry until the beef is well coated and crumbly. Remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Cover the cheese and crispy rice with the taco meat.
    When the rice is crisp and brown on one side, sprinkle on the shredded cheese and then top with the beef, and finally the lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro. Serve in the skillet.