Okinawa Taco Rice

Japanese Twist on a Taco

This is a dish that I never really got to try in my travels, while I have heard of it through most of my Marine friends, it was a dish I missed out on while traveling to Japan. I made it on my show as a tribute to my Marine Sister Stacy who wanted to see what my twist on it would be. The first time I tried to make it, it all blew up on me, but as with anything I had to try again.


  • ½ lb. ground beef or left-over meat loaf
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • ½ red onion diced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked Japanese short-grain rice or yellow rice
  • ½ cup Mexican-style shredded cheese
  • Seasoning to taste:
  • Ground chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, smoked paprika, ground cumin, kosher salt, ground black pepper.
  • ½ lb. cherry tomatoes
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamole
  • Spring lettuce leaves
  • Shishito peppers

While you can buy seasoning in a store, I enjoy making my own seasoning, you are going to get the flavor and spice levels you want each time. Be sure to start with less and add as needed. It is always better to need more than to over season.

This is a great meal for kids, Marines who have been stationed in Japan, or as a change for left-over meat loaf. I tried this dish once when on temporary assignment in Japan, and was reminded by it from a Marine who heard of it, but never had the experience of trying it. 

I start by cooking the rice. While in Japan, they cook it with Japanese long-grain rice, I prefer the yellow rice with this meal. 

In my pre-heated cast iron pan I am going to sauté the garlic and onions. Add the fresh ground beef or broken up meat loaf. Mix in your seasoning and cilantro and stir. Allow the meat to cook. 

In a separate pan, fry the shishito peppers. 

Assemble your taco bowl:

You can chop the lettuce and add it to the meat, but I like to place it as a garnish.

Add rice. Mix beef with cherry tomatoes. Top with sour cream, guacamole and fried shishito peppers, and Mexican cheese (optional) and serve.

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