Have you heard about Taco Rice? I spent one of the biggest Japanese holidays in Japan, called Golden Week. This is a 3 consecutive day holiday, Constitution Day (May 3rd), Green Day (May 4th), and Children’s Day (May 5th). On Children’s Day, Japanese people eat special dishes to wish for their children’s good health such as red snapper, sticky rice in bamboo leaf, and sweet beans cake wrapped in oak leaf. I spotted something unusual in the grocery ads. It is Taco Rice!
Taco is known as a Mexican dish. In the US, on May 5th we celebrate Mexican Cinco De Mayo (another excuse to have a party). Is this coincident? Taco Rice was originated in Okinawa, Japan. Why Okinawa? Back in 1980’s, Japanese yen was strong against dollar. People couldn’t afford dining out. A Japanese guy came up with the menu to entertain American servicemen who were based in Okinawa. Taco Rice has ground meat cooked with spices like chili pepper, oregano, paprika and cumin. The meat is placed over rice with cheese, lettuce and tomato. You can add salsa to make it spicier!
In the 1990s, public schools adopted the menu for the lunch program. If you have a good food, try serving to children. They know the good stuff because they are honest about what they eat. I grew up with lunch plate just like the 500 calories set meal; 1 main, 1 side, fruit, bread and milk. Occasionally, they serve kids’ favorite, curry rice or yakisoba noodles. I don’t remember what I like most. But I clearly remember that I hated raisin bread and marmalade sandwich.
I heard that these days school meals have more variety. Some schools have a lunch program such as using local produce or cooking international food to educate children. Wow, I am jealous! Talking about varieties, in my time there was no option like gluten free or dairy free. We were tough no matter what we were fed.
I am impressed with Japanese creativity of food. Taco Rice is so delicious and easy to make. Let’s cook 500 calories lunch: Taco Rice!
Ingredients (2 servings)
200 g Ground pork, extra lean
1 clove Garlic
40 g Onions
100 g Lettuce
60 g Canned Tomato, diced
1 teaspoon Chicken base/bullion
1/4 teaspoon Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
Salt and pepper
300 g Steamed rice
1/4 cup Cheese, cheddar
1. Cut onion into small chunks. Mince garlic. Dice avocado. Hand trim lettuce.
2. Make sauce by mixing tomato, chicken base, chili powder, oregano, and nutmeg.
3. Cook ground pork in pan.
4. Wipe off excess fat with a small piece of paper towel.
5. Remove the meat from pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion becomes caramelized.
6. Add the meat back in pan.
7. Add the sauce.
8.Simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. Place steamed rice, lettuce, taco meat, cheese, and avocado in order. Optional: add salsa.