Yo quiero TACOS!!!

The number 1 craving most foreigners in Japan have is for Mexican food.  Greasy, cheesy, spicy, Mexican food.  Unless you live in a big city like Osaka or Tokyo and know where to look, you’re most likely not going to find good Mexican food anywhere in Japan.  So what’s a couple to do 6,000 miles away from California?

Make their own, of course!

Khoa and I have been hosting monthly international events in Chibu.  This month’s event was a cooking class where Khoa taught everyone how to make tacos.  It was really fun, and other than the seasoning for the meat and vegetables, we were able to buy everyone we needed in Chibu.

Deconstructed Guacamole

Here’s Khoa’s recipe for guacamole:


2 avocados

1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice

6 g salt

1/2 onion

2 tomatoes

 2 cloves of garlic

1.      Dice the garlic into small pieces and place in a bowl.

2.      Cut the avocados in half, take out the pit, and scoop out the inside using a spoon.  Place in the bowl.

3.      Smash the avocado with a fork.

4.      Small dice the tomatoes and onions and put them in the bowl.

5.      Add the teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper into the bowl and mix.


Before coming to Japan, we would always buy tortillas in the store.  It was just so easy and so readily available; it seemed like any grocery store you walked in to sold prepackaged tortillas.  Heck, even convenience stores sometimes sold tortillas.  Imagine our disappointment as we took that first stroll through the two aisles of food in our local general store.  Well, the bright side of being without tortillas is now we know how to make them ourselves.  And it’s actually quite simple.  Here’s how:

Makes about 12 large tortillas

250 g flour

3 g salt

5 g baking powder

15 g butter

180 ml water


1.      Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl.

2.      Add the butter and mix with your fingers until it resembles cornmeal.

3.      Add water and continue to mix with your fingers.

4.      In the same bowl, knead the dough for about one minute.

Tortilla Dough.
Kneading, kneading, kneading.

If the dough sticks to your fingers and looks like this, it’s a little too wet. Try adding some more flour to get rid of the extra moisture.

5.      Split the dough into pieces and roll into balls.

6.      Use a rolling pin and roll the dough into a thin circle.  The tortillas will puff up a little after you cook them, so err on the side of too thin.

Rolling out the tortillas

7.      Cook the dough in a preheated pan on medium heat until charred marks appear (see picture below).

8.      Flip and cook on the other side.

Cook your tortilla in a pan until you get some burned spots.

If you like hard taco shells, fill a fry pan with about a 1/2 cm of oil and heat on medium heat.  Lightly fold the already cooked soft tortilla so it resembles a taco shell.  Be sure to not score the crease of the fold, you want the tortilla’s fold to be rounded.  Place the folded tortilla into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.  Carefully flip the tortilla and fry the other side.  Be sure not to fry it for too long or it will simply break when you try to fill the taco shell.  This method doesn’t produce completely hard taco shells, but gives your tacos just enough crunch.

We brought back a huge container of taco seasoning from our last trip back to the US, but if don’t have access to taco seasoning, try using this recipe:

Taco Seasoning Recipe

Makes about 9 Tablespoons

4 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon oregano

2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoon cumin

4 teaspoon salt

1  teaspoon pepper

Feel free to play around with the ratios, and add or substitute spices based on what’s available to you.  We can’t get any of these spices in Chibu (other than salt and pepper), maybe your area is better stocked.


We added this seasoning to some sautéed onions and red and yellow bell peppers.  We also added it to the ground beef. 


This one is actually a fish taco.

This recipe is really mild and all of the cooking class participants loved the taste.  If you love spicy foods, try adding some peppers (jalapeno if you have them). 

Although there are a lot of steps to preparing your own homemade tacos, each individual step is really quite simple.  You can even prepare the dough and cut all of the vegetables the day before. 


If you’re one of the many foreigners in Japan, craving Mexican food, give this recipe a try.  You can do it!


2 thoughts on “Yo quiero TACOS!!!

  1. madeinmatsue May 22, 2012 / 3:01 pm

    dis looks delish! and de tortillas look fairly handy to make… deceivingly difficult? looks good even for a change to sandwiches ^-,^

  2. Totty May 31, 2012 / 11:18 am

    AHHH! I tried to make tortillas and I ended up adding ALOT more flour and not even using as much water. It was just incredibly sticky at the given ratio. Did I do something wrong? Also I believe I rolled them too thin, because after we cooked them they didn’t want to bend well :/

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