OK, so you might think from the photo that this post will share a taco recipe. It’s true, I make some sort of taco every week for my family. They love them, no matter what I stuff in them–prawns, beef, chicken, fish, etc.) You might also think using superlatives such as “best” is a bad idea, but this really is the best Mexican rice I’ve ever had–at least compared with what we call “Mexican rice” here in the United States and all the way down to Central Mexico.
The recipe (slightly modified) comes from Maui Taco, on the island of Maui where my mom was born and raised. Even though it’s grown more crowded and touristy, I still love visiting the island, and I try to go as often as i can. Even though the roads sport more cars, and my favorite “secret” (known only by locals) snorkeling spot now has a resort built to the edge of the sand, the waters are still turquoise blue and warm, and I still know where to go for a guaranteed swim with huge gentle sea turtles.
But back to the food! After a few hours of snorkeling and playing in the surf and sand, my family heads to Maui Taco for a quick bite. The fish tacos are simple but flavorful, and when accompanied by rice and beans, they make a full meal. The nice folks at Maui Taco shared this recipe with me years ago, and I’ve been making it ever since. For some reason, I just now thought to share it with others.
It’s surprisingly simple, incredibly flavorful and versatile. You can serve it alongside tacos as I’ve shown here or put it in a larger wrap when making burritos. You can top a bit of it with a fried egg, some sliced avocado and a little salsa or hot sauce for a satisfying breakfast. You can serve it with all the taco/burrito fixings over lettuce and make a healthy taco salad. I actually like it so much that I will eat a bowl all by itself in lieu of dessert.
I served the rice pictured here with tacos filled with meatless “Beefy Crumble,” radish micro greens, sliced avocado and fresh salsa. I’m not a huge fan of faux meat, but I really like the ground beef substitute by Beyond Meat. We get the “Feisty” version which is very flavorful and made with pea protein (instead of soy, which as you may know, I generally avoid).
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 cup long-grain rice
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups organic (or homemade!) chicken stock*
Sea salt to taste
Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or similar skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion softens and begins to turn translucent. Add in the garlic and cook, stirring regularly, for another 2-3 minutes.
Push the onion/garlic mixture to the edge of the pan and add in the rice. Cook, stirring occasionally until the rice begins to brown a little. Stir in the tomato paste until fairly well-blended. Slowly stir in the chicken (or veg) stock. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the rice covered for 20 minutes. Stir and season to taste with salt.
Serve immediately or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days.