GonDirtin’s Favorite Overlanding Tacos & Rice Recipes
What’s better than tacos? Overland tacos! Our friends Karissa and Linhbergh, of @gondirtin, will be cooking up some delicious overlanding meals at the largest overlanding show, Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona, this weekend. We wanted to share the recipes with you, too.
Japanese Taco Rice (Okinawan Taco Rice)
Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 15 min
“I find that I have this strange attraction towards foreign occupation food. It hits all the spots; resourceful, soulful, and extremely delicious,” says Linhbergh. “Okinawan taco rice is one of those dishes. This dish originated from the American occupation of Japan after World War II. The small island of Okinawa was flooded with an influx of US military bases, and with it, American soldiers. These Americans weren’t used to the taste of Japanese food like we are today. Instead, they craved the taste of home, and for many of these soldiers, that was Mexican food. Local restaurant owners wanted to capitalize on this food vacuum and thus, taco rice was born.”
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 tsp ginger, minced (or ginger paste)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp of cooking oil, not olive oil
Pico de Gallo:
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- ½ medium-sized jalapeno pepper, diced
- ¼ cup cilantro
- salt, to taste
- 2 cups white jasmine rice
- 4 cups shredded cabbage
- 2 cups cheddar cheese
- Japanese mayo to taste (Kewpie brand preferred)
- The reddest, “ketchup-y” American-Taco-Sauce-Ever™ you can find
Before you get started with any other prep work, get the 2 cups of rice cooking. Wash the rice in the pot you’re going to use. Two rinses should be good enough. Fill the pot with water until the top of the rice is all covered. Place your index finger on top of the rice and continue filling until the water level reaches the first indentation of your finger. Place the pot of rice on the burner at low heat. Rice should be done in about 20 minutes.
This is by no means the most scientific way to cook rice, but Asian moms have been doing it for generations. Doesn’t matter what the size pot is, or how much rice you use — the finger method will always work.
Next, dice the whole medium-sized onion, the 2 medium tomatoes, the half of a medium-sized jalapeno, and the ¼ cup of cilantro. Set half of the diced onions aside for the taco meat. Combine the other half of the diced onions, diced tomatoes, and diced cilantro into a bowl. Salt to taste. You have your pico de gallo now. Set aside and let the flavors mingle as you finish the rest of the dish.
Mince the 1 tsp of ginger (or substitute a tsp of ginger paste) and 3 garlic cloves. Set aside.
Buy a bag of pre-shredded cabbage, or coleslaw mix, from the grocery store if possible. If not, you’re going to have to do it the old-fashioned way and slice the 4 cups of cabbage thin yourself.
Spoon 2 tbsp of cooking oil (anything but olive oil) in the skillet and heat on high until the oil starts to shimmer. Then place the 1 lb of beef into the skillet to start to break it up and start the browning process. Toss in 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Once the meat is browned, toss in the other half of the diced onion and sauté until the onion is clear and translucent. Throw in the 1 tsp of ginger and garlic. Sauté everything together for about a minute.
Turn the heat down to medium, then add the 2 tbsp of mirin. Cook off the alcohol until there’s no longer a faint alcohol smell in the steam. Then throw all the seasoning in together at the same time; the 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 4 tbsp of tomato paste, the 3 tbsp of chili powder, 2 tbsp of paprika powder, 1 tsp of cayenne powder, 1 tsp of cumin, and 1 tsp of sugar. Stir everything together, then add in the ¼ cup of water. The water will help create the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Do a final tasting and adjust seasoning if needed.
To plate: Serve the cooked rice at the bottom of a dish or bowl, add the taco meat, then the shredded cabbage, shredded cheese, and finally the pico de gallo. Squeeze the mayo on top to your liking. Set the most American-Taco-Sauce-Ever™ (or another taco sauce) aside for everyone to add to his/her own taste.
Korean Bulgogi Tacos
Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 20 min
“Bulgogi, traditionally enjoyed with rice or as lettuce wraps, is to Koreans what phở is to the Vietnamese, matzo ball soup to the Jewish, the taco is to the Mexicans, and spaghetti and meatballs are to Italian-Americans. It’s the single Korean dish that has transcended far beyond its humble, and some royal, roots,” says Linhbergh. “Everyone has his or her own rendition of this sweet and savory meat dish — there’s no single “this is it” recipe. It’s even been popularized by Korean American chef and restaurateur, Roy Choi, when he opened up the Kogi BBQ Taco truck in Los Angeles where he combined the City of Angel’s two favorite foods, Mexican and Korean, together into a taco. And now, you too can enjoy this unique blend of cultures at camp.”
- 1 lb ground beef
- ¼ of a medium-sized onion
- 2 tbsp of cooking oil (not olive oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Bulgogi Sauce and cabbage dressing:
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp of ginger (or ginger paste)
- 2 cups of applesauce
- 8 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 6 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 8 tbsp honey/agave/sugar
- 2 tbsp gochugaru chili flakes (or 1 tbsp regular chili flakes)
- 2 cups of chopped cabbage
- 1 pack of pickled radish wrap (optional)
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ¼ of an onion, diced
- ½ cup of cabbage kimchi, diced
- corn or flour tortillas
In a bowl, you’re going to make the bulgogi sauce first. Add the 8 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tbsp of ginger (if you can find the tubes of ginger paste, it makes this even easier), 2 cups of applesauce, 8 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of sesame oil, 6 tbsp of rice wine vinegar, 8 tbsp of honey/agave or sugar, and 2 tbsp of Korean gochugaru chili flakes. (Regular chili flakes are fine if the Korean ones cannot be sourced, but regular chili flakes are spicier. If using regular chili flakes, adjust the amount to 1 tsp.) Mix together and taste. The sauce should taste sweet at first, and then savory. Adjust seasoning to your taste.
In a skillet, spoon in the 2 tbsp of cooking oil (anything but olive oil) and heat the skillet on high heat until the oil starts to shimmer. Place the beef into the skillet to start to break it up and start the browning process. Season the beef with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Once the meat is browned, toss in the other ½ of onion and sauté until the onions are clear and translucent.
Take one quarter of the bulgogi sauce and pour it onto the beef. Mix to incorporate the sauce into the beef. Once fully incorporated, add in another quarter of the bulgogi sauce. Sauté until the sauce thickens. Save the rest of the sauce to dress the cabbage and if the taco meat needs additional seasoning.
Lightly dress and toss the 2 cups of shredded cabbage with the bulgogi sauce. It should not be overly dressed because the taco meat will add to the taco’s sauciness.
Dice the ½ cup of cabbage kimchi, and ¼ of an onion. Set aside.
Warm up your tortillas of choice.
Time to assemble the tacos! On the tortilla, place 1 pickled radish wrap, the taco meat, the diced kim chi, the dressed cabbage, diced onion, and then sprinkle on some cilantro. Rinse and repeat this process until all the tacos are gone.