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Taco Raisu (Okinawan Taco Rice)

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Hello!

Today I'm sharing with you all my recipe for taco raisu. The first time that I first made this dish for Peter he looked at me like I had gone crazy. And I admit, it sounds completely crazy to combine beef, flavoured with taco seasoning and soy sauce, with rice, salsa and cheese. It sounds like something that shouldn't work, but bear with me, because it really, really does work so well.

I first tried this dish while being on vacation in Okinawa. Okinawa is a group of islands south of the mainlands of Japan. The weather is tropical (like on Hawaii) and the scenery is beautiful. The Okinawan Islands belong to Japan, however, they also house a quite large American army base. Because of the large American population that comes with this base, a lot of the food available on Okinawa is an eclectic mix of flavours that frequently steps outside the Japanese comfort zone. Hence, somewhere in history, taco raisu was born and became an Okinawan signature classic.

Taco Raisu rolls or bowls are sold everywhere in Okinawa; in restaurants, street stalls and even in the supermarkets. It was actually in a night market that I first noticed a taco raisu roll. It looked like a big sushi roll, however, the seaweed wrapper was filled with rice, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and taco flavoured beef. It was like nothing I had ever seen before and I just had to try it. Never regretted it once, though, and as soon as I got home, I started to figure out how to make this dish myself. This dish is deceptively simple, for it is adding some taco toppings to a bed of rice. However, the secret is adding soy sauce to chilli, cumin and garlic that gives the beef mince a stunning flavour profile that perfectly marries Japanese and Mexican flavours. I'd say, go have a bowl of taco raisu for dinner sometime soon and see if you are just as sold on it as I am.

Taco Raisu (Okinawan Taco Rice)


2-3 portions

Ingredients

Taco Minced Beef

  • 400 grams minced beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder (use mild paprika powder for a less spicy version)
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Tomato Salsa

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • juice from halve a lime
  • pinch of course sea salt

Serve with

  • grated hard cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • shredded iceberg lettuce

Instructions

  1. Prepare your rice in either a pan or a rice cooker. Add a pinch of salt to your cooking water so you'll end up with a firm, tender grain of rice.
  2. In a large non-stick frying pan, soften the onion in a little oil for about 10 min on low heat, until they are see through and really soft. Then add the garlic, cumin and chilli powder and stir for a few minutes until the aroma of the spices fills the kitchen.
  3. Turn up the heat to medium, stir in the beef mince and brown of the meat. Once the beef is browned, turn the heat down low and add the soy sauce. Stir through and then leave the beef to simmer without stirring for a few minutes. This will create a lovely, slightly sticky soy sauce layer around the beef that will give this dish the deep, Okinawan flavour that we want. As soon as there is no liquid left in the pan, take off the heat and set aside to serve.
  4. While the meat is browning/ simmering, make the tomato salsa. Slice up the tomatoes into tiny chunks and combine in a bowl with the onion, jalapeno, salt and lime juice.
  5. Assemble the taco raisu by topping a bed of fluffy rice with some of the minced beef, a handful of shredded lettuce and a scoop of salsa. Grate over some cheese, add a dollop op sour cream and enjoy!

Notes

  • This dish isn't very spicy, however, if you want to tone done the heat, replace all or some of the chilli powder with mild (smoked) paprika powder.
tags:   Dinner, Rice, Cheese, Japanese, Salad, Taco, Mexican