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Japanese Taco

Japanese Taco


  • 1 piece of grilled eel, about 10 grams
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 Teaspoon eel sauce
  • 1/2 large shiso leaf
  • 1/4 Teaspoon pickled ginger
  • 1/8 Teaspoon fresh wasabi
  • 1/8 Teaspoon black sesame seeds


Peel and slice the cucumber into thin sheets and cut into 2-inch-by-5-inch pieces.

In a small bowl, put the eel with the eel sauce and warm in a microwave, about 30 seconds. To finish, layer the cucumber, shiso leaf, pickled ginger, and fresh wasabi. Top with the eel and roll up. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Takoyaki Recipe

Takoyaki is a very casual fast food in Japan. It might not be easily found at Japanese restaurants in the US or other parts of world even though it is a very popular dish. Takoyaki tastes a little bit like round shaped Okonomiyaki, but it has a much different flavor from the Tako (octopus) cooked inside them. In most parts of Japan, people don’t treat Takoyaki as a meal. Many people typically think of Takoyaki as something you get from street vendors at festivals and events.

In western Japan, in the Kansai area where we are from on the other hand, Takoyaki is very popular not only as a snack but also as a meal. Many households in Kansai have Takoyaki pans at home so they can cook for dinner. Takoyaki is actually very filling since flour is used as a main ingredient just like pancakes and bread. With savory Takoyaki Sauce , similar to Okonomiyaki sauce (or even Tonkatsu sauce), it can be a very good main dish for dinner.

It is very easy to make Takoyaki batter, and it’s even simple to cook, however, you must have a Takoyaki pan. If you don’t have it, it’s not possible to make Takoyaki. Luckily, today we can easily buy Takoyaki Pan online. Some Takoyaki pans are cast iron pans to use on a stove top. These work best on a gas stove. We tested on a flat electric stove, and it worked beautifully too, even though it took a little longer to heat up the pan and cook. They also sell Electric Takoyaki Pan that are portable and great for Takoyaki parties to cook right at the dinner table. If you decide to buy a Takoyaki pan, don’t forget to get a Takoyaki Pick (turner). It often looks like a small ice pick, though some are flat on the end as well. If you don’t have one, you can use something pointy, or skinny and thinner towards the end like a skewer. (A fork does not work well.)

Takoyaki is literally baked or fried octopus, so if you don’t use octopus, is it not really Takoyaki anymore? ….that’s not true! Put whatever you want inside Takoyaki. We use cheese or sausage for kids, shrimp pieces when octopus is not available, vegetables like chopped cabbage, anything you want, really. They are best eaten hot right out of a pan, so get a Takoyaki pan and enjoy fresh home made Takoyaki!

  • 2 cups (480ml) Dashi
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2-3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Benishoga (pickled red ginger), chopped
  • Boiled octopus*, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • oil
  • Takoyaki sauce or Okonomiyaki sauce
  • mayo (green dried seaweed) (dried bonito flakes)
  • *Substitute octopus with sausage, cheese, ham, and etc.
  1. In a large bowl, mix well Dashi, eggs, soy sauce, salt, and flour with a whisk.
  2. Heat a Takoyaki pan with oil to very hot, just until the oil begins to smoke. Use enough oil to coat the pan using a paper towel so that the batter won't stick. Then pour batter to fill the holes of the pan.
  3. Drop octopus pieces in the batter in each hole, and sprinkle chopped green onions and ginger all over the pan.
  4. Cook at medium heat for 1-2 minutes and turn over using a Takoyaki turner (you can use a chopstick too). It can be a little tricky at first, so watch the video to see the technique. Cook another 3-4 minutes, turning constantly.
  5. Place the cooked Takoyaki on a plate and pour Takoyaki sauce and mayo over them (to taste). Finish the dish by sprinkling the Takoyaki with Aonori (green dried seaweed) and Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).

Original Takoyaki Recipe Video from 2013:

About JapaneseCooking101

Noriko and Yuko, the authors of this site, are both from Japan but now live in California. They love cooking and eating great food, and share a similar passion for home cooking using fresh ingredients. Noriko and Yuko plan and develop recipes together for Japanese Cooking 101. They cook and shoot photos/videos at their home kitchen(s.)

How to cook Natto? (Natto Recipes)

Easy Natto Pizza Recipe

Very easy Japanese pizza with natto!

Prep time: 5 mins
Coock time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins

Ingredients (Serves 2 )

  • 1 package (1.7 oz) ground or whole (small) natto
  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • Pizza cheese, as desired

Cooking Directions

  1. Dice onion and green bell pepper, and slice the tomato.
  2. Mix natto with the sauce and mustard included in the package.
  3. Place 1. on sandwich bread and spread 2. evenly on top.
  4. Cover the bread with cheese.
  5. Toast in an oven until the cheese melts
  • Cover the bread evenly with the natto.
  • You can substitute green onion for the onion.
  • Even without the vegetable toppings, natto and cheese alone make a delicious pizza.

Fried Natto Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • Vegetable oil (as appropriate)
  • 2 packs of natto
  • Some salt, soy sauce or ponzu sauce as you like

Cooking Directions

  1. Fry natto in 356°F oil while breaking the beans into individual pieces, until the surface becomes crisp and golden brown.
  2. Drain excess oil and eat natto with salt, soy sauce or ponzu sauce to taste.

* Combine with fried carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, etc.

Mabo Natto Tofu Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 medium firm tofu
  • 1 pack of natto
  • 5.5 oz ground pork
  • 2 oz leek
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 green pepper (small)
  • 1 eggplant (medium)
  • 3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. chili bean paste
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • Potato starch diluted in water (as appropriate)

Cooking Directions

  1. Drain tofu and break it into large pieces by hand.
  2. Cut leek and other vegetables into appropriate sizes.
  3. Mince ginger with the skin on.
  4. Cut natto into small pieces.
  5. Pre-mix oyster sauce, chili bean paste, sugar, soy sauce and other flavoring ingredients.
  1. Sautee all the ingredients (other than natto) in oil.
  2. Add natto, pour mixed flavoring ingredients, and stir well.
  3. Add potato starch diluted in water to hold all the ingredients together.

* Always add natto as the last ingredient. For extra flavor, add a dash of sesame oil as the final touch.

Sticky Rice Bowl Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 3 to 5 okura
  • 1 pack of natto
  • 10 cm long yam
  • 5 to 10 green perilla leaves
  • Soy sauce (as appropriate)
  • 2 bowls rice

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut okura into small pieces, shred yam or cut it into thin, short strips, and mince green perilla leaves. Crush natto into small pieces using the knife.
  2. Put rice into a bowl, sprinkle minced green perilla leave, and put yam, okura and natto.
  3. Sprinkle soy sauce to taste.

Squid Natto Recipe

The Perfect Accompaniment to Sake

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 package ground or whole (very small) natto 1/5 green onion
  • 2.1 oz squid (sashimi-grade, sliced)
  • 2 to 3 perilla leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
  • Soy sauce to taste, 1 sachet sauce (included in the natto package)

Cooking Directions

  1. Finely chop green onion and mix with natto and sauce.
  2. Mix the squid into 1.
  3. Lay perilla leaves on a plate, put 2. on top, garnish with grated ginger, and pour soy sauce over the natto mixture.
  • You can also use sashimi-grade chopped tuna or chopped octopus instead of squid, and wasabi instead of ginger.

Ume Okaka Natto Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 packs Natto
  • 1 large umeboshi (pickled plum)
  • Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) (to taste)
  • Soy sauce (to taste)
  • White sesame seeds (as desired)

Cooking Directions

  1. Remove the pit from the umeboshi and mince the flesh.
  2. Combine the natto, umeboshi, and katsuobushi in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Season with soy sauce. Place in a serving bowl, and sprinkle with white sesame seeds.

Natto Egg (Tamagotoji) Rice Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 packs Natto
  • 3 Tbsp. Nijiya Brand Tsuyu Tennen
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 eggs
  • kizami-nori (shredded nori) (as desired)
  • Salad oil (as desired)
  • 2 bowls of cooked rice

Cooking Directions

  1. Slice the onion and stir fry in a skillet till tender. Set aside in a container to cool.
  2. Crack eggs in a bowl and mix with the natto and the onion from Step 1.
  3. Heat the salad oil in a skillet. Stir in the ingredients from Step 2 and mix with big strokes till half-cooked.
  4. Put rice in a bowl and top with the ingredients cooked in Step 3.
  5. Pour Tsuyu Tennen and sugar into the same skillet. Mix lightly and bring to a boil:
    Pour on top of the dish and sprinkle on kizami nori.

Natto Avocado Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 packs Natto
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 onion
  • 4 Tbsp. Nijiya Brand Soba Tsuyu (undiluted type)

Cooking Directions

  1. Peel the avocado, remove the seed, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Finely chop the onion and soak in cold water.
  2. Drain the onion. Put the avocado, onion and natto in a container. Pour in Nijiya Brand Soba Tsuyu and mix the avocado as if cutting with a spoon.

Natto Grilled Curry Rice Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 1 pack Natto
  • 1 pack Nijiya Brand Curry
  • 1 egg
  • Pizza cheese (to taste)
  • Dried parsley (to taste)
  • 1 bowl of cooked rice
  • Butter (as desired)

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a heat-resistant dish with butter. Put in the cooked rice. Empty the package of curry on top of the rice to completely cover the rice. Add natto and mix slightly with the curry.

Tuna in Grated Daikon with Natto Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 pack Natto
  • 18 oz tuna sashimi
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/2 pack kaiware-daikon (white radish sprouts)
  • 3 Tbsp. grated daikon
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce Iwasabi (as desired)
  • Ponzu (as desired)

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut the tuna sashimi into bite-sized pieces and rub in the soy sauce and wasabi.
  2. Slice the onion and soak in water with kaiware-daikon.
  3. Stir the sauce into the natto.
  4. Mix the ingredients from Steps 1, 2, and 3 onto the grated daikon and serve with a drizzle of ponzu.

Natto Minced Beef Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 packs Natto
  • 1/4 onion
  • 3 pieces Chinese cabbage
  • 3-3/4 oz ground beef
  • 1 green onion
  • Dashes of salt and pepper
  • Panko, flour, beaten egg, frying oil (as needed)

Cooking Directions

  1. Finely mince the Chinese cabbage, boil, and squeeze out excess moisture. Mince the onion and green onion. Cut the natto into small pieces and mix with the provided sauce.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and divide into four parts. Roll into oblong shapes. Dredge each piece in flour, beaten egg, and panko, in that order. Deep fry in oil at 338° to 356°F for 4 to 5 minutes.

Natto Sandwich Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 packs of natto (fermented soy bean)
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 4 leaves of lettuce
  • Butter
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt to your taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Spread butter on the bread first, then mustard, and mayonnaise last.
  2. Spread natto on the bread and add a dash a salt for taste.
  3. Put the lettuce on top of the natto.
  4. Press the two slices of bread together.
  • You can add chopped cucumber, green onions or even cheese.
  • If you need more flavor, sprinkle soy sauce or the sauce that comes in the natto package on your natto.

Recipe and photo by: Yakitori Koshiji

Inspired by our South East Asian neighbours and their fun & fragrant street food, we reckon the whole family is going to go totally nuts for these peanut beef tacos. And if they’re peanut butter obsessed like us, just try stopping them from dipping, dunking and smothering their tacos in lots of the nutty goodness!


1 lb. of ground beef or ground chicken
1/4 cup of Bachan's
Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper 14 - 16 of mini flour tortillas
1 small red onion
1 bunch of cilantro
Chopped Japanese or Korean Kimchi
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 - 3 tablespoons of Yuzu Juice to taste (substitute lime here if you must)
3 - 4 tablespoons of Sriracha

Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 15 min.
Serves 4

About Japanese Food

Washoku vs Yōshoku

Most Japanese recipes can be placed into one of two categories: washoku and yōshoku.

An extreme oversimplification of those terms is that washoku is the traditional cuisine of Japan, which is usually reliant on in-season ingredients. So, when you eat classics like Japanese pickled vegetables or oden or miso glazed grilled fish, you’re likely eating washoku dishes.

Another super over-simplified explanation of a nuanced issue is that yōshoku is food containing some Western (or foreign) ingredients and flavors, prepared in a style that appeals to the Japanese palate.

Therefore, food like ramen and gyoza that have their origins in Chinese cooking (sometimes this is also referred to as chuuka) – and spaghetti Napolitan, many au gratin dishes, and korokke (croquettes) which skew Western – are yōshoku.

It’s super difficult to know where the line is drawn! So many things we assume are straight-up Japanese recipes have actually been absorbed into the Japanese food sphere and perfected for the Japanese palate.

My opinion on the matter is that, no matter where dishes like curry and spaghetti Napolitan came from originally, they have become Japanese over the years through their ubiquitousness in Japanese food culture.

Pickled Plum is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

originally published February 3, 2018 &mdash last updated January 17, 2020 // 20 Comments

Taco Tuesday Can be Japanese

How does a Japanese tea company celebrate everyone's favorite-foodie-day of the week? By making Japanese tacos, of course!!

It's a beautiful time to be alive when some of the world's best offerings can be enjoyed at the same time. Say, for example, Japanese flavors in a taco. And we're not talking cheesy or kitsch, smoosh every global influence together and make it work. We're talking about delicious, easy-to-prep flavors that celebrate Japanese food heritage in one of the best ways to consume food - as a taco.

Our BFFs at Topo Chico gave us the idea for this taco party after they saw our Matcha Soda recipe featuring their sparkling water. What's better than Topo & tacos? Matcha Topo sodas and Japanese tacos!!

We asked our chef/foodie friends in Japan what they would want to see in a Japanese taco, and our BFF Proportional Plate came along to make all our dreams a reality! We styled out three recipes (two of which are vegan!) for you to try. They each taste delicious with a matcha soda in hand!

1) Chicken Katsu with quick-pickled cucumber or radish

2) Japanese sweet potato with miso glaze

3) Grilled trumpet mushroom with nori and tomatillo salsa

Grab your Mizuba matcha soda and get cookin'! You'll have a taco party in no time!

Take a #MatchaMoment – Mizuba Matcha Sodas + Japanese-styled Tacos!

Brought to you by Mizuba Tea Co. and recipe developed in partnership with Candice Walker of Proportional Plate. Focusing on self-care & healthy recipes, Proportional Plate is where she shares tips, meal plans, & recipes to inspire small changes in your life that make big impacts.

Ingredients + instructions to prep tacos:

For the Japanese sweet potato & mushroom glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon avocado oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • teaspoon minced ginger

Method: Whisk to emulsify.

For the sweet potatoes:

Method: Bring a pot of water to boil with sweet potatoes in it. Cook until fork-tender. Strain.

Char on the grill for 2 minutes per side, lightly basting with glaze.

For the mushrooms:

Method: Slice trumpet mushrooms ¼-½” thick.

Cook for 3 minutes per side lightly basting with glaze.

For the quick-pickled cucumbers & radishes:

  • 5 radishes
  • 2 Persian cucumbers
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Method: Mix the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and oil in a bowl. Thinly slice the cucumbers and radishes on a mandoline and add them to separate bowls. Split the pickling liquid between the two bowls. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes minimum.

For the chicken:

  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1” strips.
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups Panko
  • oil for frying
  • 1-2 tablespoon Japanese curry per taco

Method: Set up a breading station: set 1 bowl with the eggs scrambled, one bowl with the panko. Season both with salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken into the egg, then coat in panko, dip into the egg again, and dip into the panko for the second time.

Heat a cast-iron pan with ½” flavorless oil like canola or avocado.

Cook chicken strips 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.

Drain oil from fried chicken on a paper bag or paper towels.

For the salsa: Head to Proportional Plate for an easy tomatillo salsa recipe to top your tacos with!

Now that you have all your ingredients prepped…

Assemble the tacos:

Chicken Katsu Tacos

  • Top corn tortillas with a piece of panko chicken, 1-2 tbsp Japanese curry, then some pickled cucumber, tomatillo salsa, and black sesame seeds.

Japanese Sweet Potato Tacos

  • Top corn tortillas with a few pieces of Japanese sweet potato, tomatillo salsa, then some pickled radishes.

Grilled Trumpet Mushroom Umami Tacos

  • Top corn tortillas with a few pieces of trumpet mushroom, tomatillo salsa, and finely chopped nori.

For more fun recipes like these, head over to Proportional Plate and Mizuba Tea Co.

Japanese omelet with fried rice (omurice) is one of the most iconic comfort foods. The menu consists of a fluffy omelet filled with simple fried rice. The ingredients for the rice are tomato sauce, mushrooms, and peas.

This rice porridge consists of rice, tea bags, and sweet potato cuts. The rice is cooked with tea to get the aroma and unique flavor. The sweet potato is cut and simmered.

Many Japanese foods are healthy, quick, and delicious. Try one of these 20 Japanese breakfast recipes to start your day healthy.

You might also like:

Taco-seasoned ground meat, served over rice, has become incredibly popular in Japanese kitchens. So where did it come from?

A couple years ago, in chef Shinobu Namae’s serene subterranean kitchen at L’Effervescence, a Michelin two-starred restaurant in Tokyo, I found myself celebrating Taco Tuesday with an Okinawan neoclassic dish.

This wasn’t my first staff meal. I had the chance to sit down to many while working double shifts at a chicken wing place in Boston during college—usually featuring teriyaki tenders and a plastic quart container of ice water—and as a photographer at NYC’s Per Se, where we ate a rendition of Thomas Keller’s double-fried Ad Hoc chicken.

No matter what’s on the table, all staff meals have a similar makeup—be it a dishwasher cooking his family’s secret recipe or a sous chef trying to use up excess vegetables to make room in the walk-in. It’s sustenance for before, or after, the long shift ahead. Staff meal at L’Effervescence was no different. That day, the crew was having what they called tacoraisu, or taco rice. Somehow, despite being thousands of miles removed from my hometown of Croton-on-Hudson, the dish evoked weeknight meals I ate growing up outside of New York City. A thick and tangy meat sauce resembled a soul-satisfying tomato-based Bolognese, but this one was redolent of store-bought Tex-Mex taco seasoning packets, a zesty blend of earthy and slightly spicy warming spices.

Upon my return home to Brooklyn, I couldn’t believe taco-seasoned ground meat was found in Japanese kitchens. How did the seasoning even get to Japan? What was its alleged role in the country’s cultural heritage? I reviewed menu archives and articles to find taco rice was invented in Okinawa after World War II, when the island, 400 miles south of the Japanese mainland, first became home to many G.I. inhabitants from the United States. (To this day, 25,000 U.S. military personnel are still stationed at army bases across Okinawa’s 70-mile-long and 7-mile-wide land mass.) And with it, this new population brought a new set of pantry provisions. But somehow taco rice had found its way off the atoll and into the hearts of many Japanese. I get it: We are the sum of our cumulative eating experiences. But to find a Tex-Mex seasoning packet dumped over sushi rice? That seemed a quantum leap, and I had to know more.

In 1956, an Okinawan chef named Mr. Charlie opened a shop called Charlie’s Tacos in an effort to cater to the island’s new inhabitants. With taco shells made of rice flour, Charlie’s was the first “taco place” in Okinawa serving “Mexican” food, with a concentration on crispy tacos. A number of spots with a similar menu opened in the years after, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that Matsuzo Gibo of King Tacos, the contemporary forerunner of taco rice in Japan, introduced his signature dish. Situated a mile away from the main gate of the Marine Corps base Camp Hansen, King Tacos still serves this dish with the usual taco fixings: shredded lettuce, diced tomato, salsa, and shredded cheese, all atop ground beef and perfumed by the usual powdered chili, garlic, onion, dried oregano, and ground cumin. But this taco meat is cooked with Japanese ingredients: soy sauce, mirin, and sake play a role, too.

Okinawan taco rice went on to become a phenomenon across Japan, with Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises featuring it in the 1990s. Yoshinoya, a countrywide gyudon (beef and rice bowl) chain, offers the dish at its Okinawa locations, and Taco Bell in Tokyo’s Shibuya district continues to sell a taco rice bowl with a side of French fries. Recently, the dish has been reclaiming its roots in Okinawa, as fashionable fast food restaurant RuLer’s just opened in Ginowan with long lines of people waiting to try ten different styles of taco rice, including teriyaki, BBQ, and even a Caesar salad version.

Ever since I had taco rice at L’Effervescence, I’d been keeping an eye out for it at Japanese restaurants in New York. It took a couple of years, but I finally happened upon it at Brooklyn’s House of Small Wonder, a sort of indoor treehouse. The tiny café sits next door to its brother restaurant, Zenkichi, a den of dark wood and partially enclosed rooms where guests are delivered a sophisticated omakase menu that pairs modern cooking with traditional Japanese techniques.

House of Small Wonder in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

House of Small Wonder is a stark contrast. Mami-san, the easygoing manager, calls it a European café, more attuned to daily ruminations than deep navel-gazing. At House of Small Wonder there’s no Wi-Fi and no clock on the wall, and it is cash only—all meant to allow patrons the space to “think about the small things.” In the middle of the room, an old ash tree rises through the greenhouse-like pitched roof, viewable from the sidewalk on the gentrified North 6 th Street of Williamsburg, Brooklyn—but only if you know to look for it.

The taco rice here is a taco-donburi (rice bowl) hybrid: A blend of ground pork is cooked into a sauce made from ketchup, Worcestershire, sugar, and a little squirt of Sriracha. Rather than utilizing store-bought taco seasoning packets, the only dry ingredient is black pepper the meat has noticeable umami depth, rather than a Tex-Mex flavor profile.

The rice is important, too. The short-grained Japanese variety is stickier than typical steamed white rice and resembles what’s used to make onigiri, allowing the meat sauce to stick like a BBQ sauce would to a rib.

An intricate salad of shredded spinach, sliced red peppers, chopped tomatoes, and cubed avocado surrounds a mound of warm rice, which gets topped with grated Gruyère cheese—a nod to the restaurant’s slight European bent—whereas white or yellow cheddar is more typical in Japan. The meat sauce is heated in a microwave and poured over the rice. And then, as if this all weren’t enough, a fried egg crowns the dish, upping the richness in a truly ridiculous way.

Mami-san says taco rice was the first thing she learned how to cook from her family. Still in her 20s, she lives at home, the oldest of three school-aged sisters, and while her parents work late, she’s often responsible for putting dinner together. “It’s actually pretty easy, and everything can be made ahead. The hardest part is really reheating it all when you’re ready to eat,” she says.

Mami-san serves me up a plate, and I sit down for lunch. The cheese melts ever so slightly, and the creamy egg yolk mixes in the glutinous bed of rice below. I’d hate to use a cliché and call this hangover food, but considering I was a bit hungover from an overzealous night before, I can honestly say this taco rice revived me, and even my sense of the world. Mami-san says feeding people is all about ichizu, a term that means “earnest or wholehearted.” I didn’t know if she meant I should feel an unconditional love for taco rice, or humankind in general, but if you think about it, it’s really one and the same.

Okinawan Taco Rice

4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef or pork
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning, approximately 1 ounce
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup, or tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon Sriracha (optional)

The American military presence in Okinawa, Japan, influenced local chefs to make more nontraditional fare, giving us taco rice. While the meat is sprinkled with taco seasoning, it’s also infused with sake and soy sauce, giving the dish distinct Tex-Mex and Japanese flavors.

Ingredient 8: Flour

Flour is pretty much a given when comes to essential pantry item. Besides baking, have you tried making noodles or gyoza wrappers? Let’s find some new uses and make some inspiring dishes with it!

Homemade Udon Noodles

Do you know you can make udon noodles from scratch with just 4 ingredients? Yes! That includes flour, water, salt, and cornstarch. It’s that simple! Give this a try, and you will be rewarded with delicious homemade noodles.

Homemade Gyoza Wrappers

Gyoza making is one of the most meaningful projects you can do together as a family. It’s therapeutic and creates a sense of bond. All you need is salt, water, and flour. Watch the video tutorial and enjoy this process! You can keep the gyoza wrappers for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer. Just dust with a little more flour if you’re not using the wrappers right away.

Variations: With the homemade wrappers, you can make this classic gyoza recipe, gyoza with wings or napa cabbage gyoza. Depending on your preference, you can adjust the thickness of the wrappers slightly. Try not to overfill the dumplings.


Made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, and meat/ protein, this popular Japanese street food is a savory version of Japanese pancake. Once tried, you’ll be coming back for more.

Substitutions: Okonomiyaki literally means ‘grilled as you like it’. That means you can cook with whatever fillings and toppings you like. Read the recipe for more suggestions.

    There are many directions you can take with this thin, crisp savory pancake, but less is more here. You can leave out the shrimp, and use only the green onions. Otherwise, use only one type of vegetable and do not overcrowd.

Fluffy Japanese Souffle Pancakes

No one would mind staying at home if you serve these Fluffy Japanese Souffle Pancakes for brunch. They are fluffy, airy, and so good with homemade whipped cream and fresh berries!

Substitutions: No fresh berries? Thaw out some frozen berries. Or change it up with tropical flavors like mango or toasted coconut with chocolate flakes.

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I hope these recipes inspire you to make something new while using what you’ve already got. The goal here is to be flexible & creative —and know that you can still make it delicious. If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll be ready to help!

More Resources on Japanese Cooking

Wish to learn more about Japanese cooking? Visit my resource pages below: