Tacu Tacu, pronounced tah-koo tah-koo, is a beloved rice-and-beans dish from Peru. It is a perfect dish for cooking with kids!
As tasty as it is economical, tacu tacu is a protein/carbohydrate powerhouse and can be found in multiple variations across Peru. It is served fried, baked and often “Poorman’s style,” topped with steak and eggs.
The tacu tacu recipe was in our charge as part of my youngest daughter’s Global Focus Studies. For one week every winter, she and her schoolmates center their school work around a particular country.
The study of cuisine has always been a great gateway to learning about new culture:It is THE highlight of the winter.
Frankly, food is our favorite foreign language.
Our family was introduced to cookery from New Zealand (imagine months and months of meringue pavlovas), Russia (hard boiled eggs with a cream sauce – not my personal fave) and Costa Rica (fried plantains – yum, yes I would make these again and again!).
This year, the country of choice was Peru.
The history, language, & customs (both traditional and modern) play a role in what the students learn. Food is at the heart of their studies. The students spend part of each day cooking different recipes and the week culminates with a feast. Parents lend a hand and work with small groups to craft a communal dinner.
We couldn’t wait to dive into the recipes and get a flavor for this South American country.
Ava wrote of Tacu Tacu:
It is so tasty and so good.
I like the new way of eating rice and beans. It is really easy to make and I felt like we could do it all by ourselves. They look like veggie hamburgers.
They are easy to make. Depending upon the skill-set and age of your young cooks, I always recommend parent oversight and help with the oven and with frying.
By Ava and her 4-5 Class
- 2 cups of canned beans — kidney and pinto beans are great!
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil (or vegetable oil of your choice)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo paste (go light or heavy, depending if you like a spicy kick)
- 1 medium white onion, minced
- Mash the beans and salt in a bowl using a fork or potato masher. Add the rice to the mashed beans and mix with a wooden spoon.
- Saute the minced garlic & onion with the aji amarillo with 2 tablespoons oil in a pan over medium heat until onion is translucent. Remove from heat and add the sauteed mixture to the bowl with rice and beans. Stir the mixture with the wooden spoon.
- Divide the rice and beans mixture into four equal parts, shaping each section into a patty.
- Over high heat, brown the patties in a pan with 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Fry two minutes and flip, cooking two minutes more.
- Serve each patty with a sprinkling of salt or hot sauce of your choice.
This recipe makes about 4 servings. You can easily double it, or quadruple it. It is very forgiving and tasty.
A note and caveat: The mixture can be a bit loose. You can remedy this in 2 ways: (1) You can bake the patties at 350F degrees for 15-20 minutes with a light spray of canola oil. They will not be as crispy but they will be easier to cook if your mixture is hard to form. Or (2) add one beaten egg in step 1 with the rice. Is a great way to use up leftovers!
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