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help - leftover rice!

After a LARGE gathering (>80), we ended up with a massive amount of cooked white rice that was left and I am wondering what is best to do with it. Ideally something that can be frozen. Not a huge fan of dessert (rice pudding quickly came to mind as a possibility), so freezing some good fried rice in lunchsize containers seemed like a reasonable project for tonight. But maybe I just haven't met a really good rice pudding recipe yet? Any ideas, but especially for savory things would be great. Rice is my main startch, but I am worried that I wouldn't be able to eat this much before it goes bad! Perhaps, I could even make something alcoholic with it....?

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  1. I have the same issue, but with brown rice. Any recs for brown rice as well.

    1. One note of warning if you're thinking about making lots of fried rice - my sister, a doctor, constantly warns me that leftover fried rice can cause bacillus cereus food poisoning (something about the fact that the rice is cooked, then allowed to come to room temperature, thus allowing the spores to multiple and they can survive the heat used to pan-fry the rice to make fried rice). I've never gotten sick so far from leftover fried rice, but just something to think about, especially if you have *that* much rice leftover.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kcchan

        Yes my FIL and husband are docs and they remind me of this. But then again, my husband says it relatively rare. But you shouldn't keep rice for more than 24-48 hours in the fridge if you are worried about it. We don't keep it around long, but I have to say that med school makes you a germ phobe. Before med school my husband didn't believe in food poisoning!

        Note that rice is not the only culprit, but other grains/legumes that are dry then cooked, then stored then recooked.

        1. re: kcchan

          interesting . . . I have gotten sick off fried-rice so consistently this year that I am sworn off it. My dh swears it is my one favourite chinese restaurant. But I have managed to make myself sick on fried rice from many places and my own left-over rice. I must be super sensitive to that bacillus stuff

        2. Rice not only freezes well, but is one of the few things that is pretty good coming out of a microwave. So freeze away, I say.

          Our leftover rice most often becomes chahan (fried rice) and onigiri (rice balls).

          For chahan, I use frozen veg (peas, carrots, corn, green beens, etc…), some re-generated shitake (keep the liquid to add with shoyu as you're frying), scallions, egg – and both oo and butter. Start with oo, and finish with butter.

          For onigiri, I use the plastic 2-per/triangle form. Spray with a touch of oil to make the release quicker. Inside, I put seeded umeboshi, or some katsuobushi mixed with a little shoyu, or whatever else I may have leftover. Sprinkle some shio-goma (large chunks of salt with sesame seed) or furikake on top. Toast some nori and cut into long slices. But don’t put the nori on the onigiri until ready to eat – so if I’m takig for lunch or a picnic, I carry the nori separately in it’s own sandwich bag.

          My wife and kids like to make rice patties for breakfast – just mix egg and rice and pour onto a pan or griddle and form a “pancake”. They like it with a little soy and Tabasco. I have no idea where this comes from – I prefer just plain rice with an egg for breakfast.

          Interesting bit on the bacillus cereus – my family has had leftover rice forever (I’m over 50 and grew up in Japan) and we’ve never been sick. There was always rice sitting in the pan or cooker. It never lasted more than a day without being remade – but cold rice in the cooker was always available unless it was hot or being made. I freeze mine these days, since I can’t eat it as much as I would like (diabetic), but once again, I’ve never been sick from leftover rice.

          1. rice patties is the way to go. for dinner, i make them as recommended by applehome, with some sea salt (and soy or tabasco on the side). in the morning, i toss some cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter, and my condiment of choice is raspberry or rhubarb jam.

            1. You can make the Vietnamese version of rice patties aka "com chay." They are typically topped w/ a little scallion oil. They make a great little snack on their own but can be served w/ rich or saucy dishes.

              Here's a recipe from the vietworldkitchen website:

              She says leftover rice can be used but that it should be warmed first.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Carb Lover

                As a follow up, I tried making the "com chay" from the above website, and it worked out well overall. I used a non-stick pan and refreshed my day-old rice w/ some water first. I was afraid that it might burn quickly, but it browned pretty slowly and was very manageable. I will let it get a little darker next time. I was a little concerned about flipping too, but it worked fine since I made sure that the bottom was crisp and the rice kernels were fused together.

                The scallion oil that is brushed on after pan-frying is really nice and is similar to what we use for banh cuon. The com chay was nutty and crunchy, although I might use a little more oil for frying next time.

                At a restaurant in San Jose called Nha Toi, we've ordered com chay w/ a rich, minced pork belly dish w/ shrimp paste. It's great spooned on the com chay like crostini. I had some ground pork to use up so made my own version and it was all very tasty! My com chay isn't as good as the one at Nha Toi, but I'll work on it!

              2. You could freeze it as-is, then cook it later. I keep 3-4 meals worth of brown or white rice the freezer at all times, in individual ziplock bags. Thaws just fine in the fridge, or a quick thwap on the counter to loosen it then giving it a quick nuke in the microwave with a bit of water brings it to life nicely. Brown rice is especially resiliant to freezing.

                1. -put it in a roasting pan put alot of curry in the rice and on the chicken,bake.
                  -use it as a salad topping
                  -add cream of mushroom soup,butter then put cheese on top,bake
                  -cream of mushroom,rice,chicken.
                  -spanish rice(with bacon?)

                  1. Leftover rice molds way too quickly if stored in the fridge for longer than a couple of days, so by all means, freeze it. I cook Chinese-style rice that is not too sticky, and it is not great for making cakes or onigiri (in my opinion), so I use it for Chinese style fried rice, broccoli-rice-cheese casseroles, New Orleans style dirty rice, Caribbean rice and bean dishes, and sometimes just for steaming over again and serving with a fried egg and lapcheong on top with soy sauce. The microwave works great for initial thawing, by the way. If you truly have a large amount, consider splitting it among smaller bags to freeze.

                    1. tossed in soup
                      a cold rice salad (add black beans, green onions, etc-recipes out there)
                      make Italian rice balls (dip in egg batter, coat with breadcrumbs and fry)
                      add to meatloaf
                      quick stir fry with chicken or beef & veggies
                      mock chicken chow mein

                      1. I just used some leftover rice to make Indian rice pudding. Here is the recipe:

                        1 cup cooked white Basmati rice
                        1 cup whole milk
                        1/2 cup heavy cream
                        1/4 cup sugar
                        1/4 tsp cardamom
                        1/3 cup golden raisins
                        1/3 cup unsalted pistachios

                        In a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat, combine the cooked rice and milk. Heat until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently, approximately 5 minutes.

                        Increase the heat to medium, add the heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar and cardamom and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken again, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Use a whisk to help prevent the cardamom from clumping. Once the mixture just begins to thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the raisins and pistachios. Let rest a few minutes. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 4.

                        1. Freeze cooked rice in sandwich bags, each one holding a single portion. Some rices freeze better than others---the worst I know of is basmati, which blobs together, and the best is parboiled aka golden rice, which stays in discrete grains. This is very convenient---just zap a portion for a minute or so when you need it. Or even the blobby kind can go into a broth or rice pudding.

                          1. You could make a Fritata (sorry, my spelling is really bad) and add some veggies of your choosing. Yum!

                            Fried rice is good with rice that has been cooked and cooled.

                            I have a friend who likes rice with soy sauce and cheddar. It really isn't bad.

                            1. I second the frittata.

                              You can make:
                              rice porridge (congee).
                              vegetarian cabbage rolls or stuffed grape leaves
                              rice casserole

                              You can also use it to thicken puréed soups.

                              1. I'm 57, have eaten rice all my life, have never heard of anything so strange as frozen left-over rice, and am continually astonished regarding American food fears. I too fear American food--but in this case I mean processed, fast, and feedlot stuff. I don't eat any of that, but leave the rice out in the pot until the next day. I eat sashimi that hasn't been industrially frozen; but don't eat too much meat. I leave things in the refrigerator and, if I have a doubt, I smell them. People were shocked when Bourdain ate some pig intestine in Africa. To me, so what? What shocked and horrified me so much more was in his episode along the US- Mexico border, he was shown riding a motorcycle WITHOUT A HELMET!! And, yes, I allow our three year old to root around in the dirt, to eat different things, to deal with several languages, to not fear food...in order to get her prepared for the world. On the other hand, as an ex motorcycle person, I would prefer she didn't do that; and if she has to, to wear a helmet!

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  I have plenty of fellow Japanese friends that keep rice in the feezer. Microwaving a small amount from the freezer is a very quick way to heat it up. If you want a bowl for lunch, and you no longer keep the rice cooker going, it's a good way to have the right texture rice, quickly and cheaply.

                                  Microwaving rice is well accepted - all the Japanese instant cooked rice packs give you microwave directions. Frozen rice comes out as good.

                                  There are many good reasons for not keeping the rice cooker full. Maybe your kids are grown and gone and it's just you, plus in my case, I'm diabetic and just can't have 3 bowls a day as I used to - and yet, once in a while, I still want to break out some umeboshi, maybe an egg or a can of eel, and toast some nori for lunch. The frozen rice is available quickly and easily - and it's a lot cheaper than the store-bought packs.

                                  1. re: applehome

                                    Applehome, I'm one of your fellow Japanese friends. My daughter is three years old. I'm completely with you in the uses of leftover rice, although I keep it in the refrigerator and not in the freezer. Why freeze?

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      I'm not applehome, but I also freeze leftover rice, and am Japanese as well (not that it matters) I don't cook rice every day, maybe once a week at most. It wouldn't work for me to keep it in the fridge, because it'd dry out. Your mileage may vary.

                                      For those times when I want one serving, I don't need to fire up the rice cooker. It nukes fast with great results. Freezing works for me.

                                      1. re: Professor Salt

                                        Okay, another fellow Japanese here (not that it matters ;) ) and we've been eating rice leftover for years and have never gotten sick. My great grandma was an old country farmer and I shudder when I think of the things we ate at her house! I've never frozen rice. I guess I've always been conscious of the fact that it's in there waiting to be made into something else. I've got teenagers who love the old friend rice with bacon, eggs and weenies. Shoyu weenies over rice for breakfast. Over easy egg on top of rice etc. I guess I've never noticed it "drying out". I mean it does get hard in the fridge (perfect for fried rice) but I always find that covering it tightly with saran wrap and then microwaving it softens it up nicely.

                                        I'll keep the freezing in mind though. Might be worth a try.

                                        1. re: mrsmegawatt

                                          I'm really enjoying this "not that it matters" group. Since I left the US more than 30 years ago, I sometimes (often?) feel like a quirky old geez. Now I'm part of a community in which left over rice is indeed sacred to all, but in which some freeze and others not! A seemingly trivial issue when put to print; but wars have been fought and civilizations toppled on less (kidding, just kidding).

                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Like the professor says, it's just convenience - if you keep the cooked rice longer than it will keep in the fridge, it makes sense to freeze. And it really comes out fine - I was just playing the Japanese card because it's really important to us, and the Japanese folks I know who freeze rice really are happy with the results.

                                        57 and 3... subarashii, indeed! I don't have the energy to answer the phone call from my 30-year old!

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          Convenience -- nothing like having rice ready on hand, immediately . . . anytime

                                      3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        I find some of our American food fears odd as well. My grandmother (issei) used to leave cooked fish on the counter overnight (in the warm climate of Hawaii, no less) as well as rice in the cooker. While her children refrigerated leftovers, she rarely did. I believe that her generation, growing up and living with minimal refrigeration, more whole foods, very little processed foods had acquired immunities that our generation has lost with our obsession toward antibacterial everything. She was quite healthy throughout her life and passed away at the beautiful age of 94, not of any disease, but simply because her body was done living.

                                        I agree with Sam, there is something to be said about careful exposure to naturally occurring things. Having worked and traveled in many developing regions, I have been cautious, but never feared trying foods from selected hawker stalls or open markets. Ironically, the only times I became ill due to food-borne pathogens were from dining experiences in what were considered two of the better restaurants in one city.

                                        1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                          First, let me get something straight - I am not advocating throwing all the rice away, nor am I arguing that all leftover rice should be thrown away, lest anyone who touches it will be contimated with deathly food poisoning. I've survived street foods in Asia, Europe, and South America and am not one to live in fear lest I get sick. also grew up in a household where there was always leftover rice, and my grandmother still makes fried rice with leftover rice and leaves it on the counter for hours. I have never had trouble with it; my sister, however, who has a more sensitive stomach than I do, always gets food poisoning whenever we visit our grandmother. In addition, since she has young children, she is very careful with food safety.

                                          The problem is not that leftover rice will always go bad, but that there's always the risk that it is tainted with bacillus cereus, and this risk is heightened with fried rice, especially leftover fried rice. If tainted rice is left out for hours (or days), the bacillus cereus spores will multiply. If this rice is used to make fried rice, the quick pan-frying will not be enough to kill the spores, but will make the environment warm enough to be more conducive to even more rapid multiplication of the spores. Add on the fact that we typically leave out fried rice to cool before we put it in the refrigerator or freezer. So, as I understand it, leftover fried rice is most subject to contamination then regular leftover white rice.

                                          Once again, I've never had a trouble with leftover fried rice, but some people are more sensitive than others. So my note at the beginning of this thread was a caution - if the rice had been sitting out for a while, and you're planning on using it for fried rice and then having leftover fried rice, one might want to be aware of the possible risks, particularly if one is particularly sensitive to food poisoning or is planning on serving young children or elderly (or having a huge leftover dinner party, on the off-chance that bacillus cereus has multiplied, you'll have a lot of unhappy guests trying to use the bathroom). So please don't construe my warning as hysterical or germaphobic; I was simply offering a friendly warning.

                                          1. re: kcchan

                                            Thanks for the info/warning kcchan. I've never heard of this bacteria before. I mean, I've left rice in the cooker on a hot summer night and forgotten about it only to find it quite less than appealing. I've tossed it out on those occasions. I think it's a good thing to warn us about!

                                      4. Song of India Rice in the Diet for a Small Planet cookbook starts with cooked brown rice. Use some for that. (Mix it with some sauteed onion and apple, curry powder, and cashews & raisins, and serve with yogurt.)

                                        1. i love arancini, the italian rice balls (some recipes use risotto, but then can be made with regular rice). you could make a big batch of them and i think they would freeze well.

                                            1. You can freeze the rice by itself, don't add anything to it. I cook the whole bag of rice at one time and then parse it into dinner or individual servings and freeze it. I use food saver bags so I can microwave it or boil it in the bag to heat it back up. It comes out like freshly cooked rice out of a steamer, even though it was boiled originally.

                                              1. Make congris...cooked rice mixed with peas or beans. Brown onion & garlic and a little diced pork (either ham hocks, or bacon, or salt pork, or even sliced deli ham, if that's what you have on hand), then the cooked rice & cooked legumes (blackeyed peas, crowder peas, lady cream peas, field peas, baby limas, black beans, etc). Use some cooking liquid from the legumes to moisten the mixture and cook over low heat until the rice is revived. Eat with cornbread.

                                                1. sweet rice is a great dish to use some rice for. You can find recipes on line. Its a portugese dessert that is wonderful

                                                  1. I like to eat leftover (Japanese) white rice topped with a couple soft poached eggs for breakfast. Yum!


                                                    1. Cooked rice, when pureed into soups, is a great way to make them creamy without adding cream. This is a Julia Child trick I picked up from her book "The Way to Cook".

                                                      I bet this might make creamy soups that freeze better than those with dairy, but I haven't tried it.

                                                      1. I often neglect to freeze left over rice as I always thought it lost something flavorwise? Maybe I just made that assumption becasue I usually freeze a meal worth of left overs together. ie a curry with rice in the same container - that way its all ready to heat up when needed.

                                                        I usually find that unless the rice is fully mixed into the sauce it tatstes kind of mushy out of the microwave. I've actually taken to simply freezing the ie curry and adding the rice imediately before microwaving instead - makes a better left over lunch in my stomach's eyes.

                                                        1. Freeze it in family or individual sized bags just as it is, and use it for different things as you thaw it out. Fried rice, soups, rice stuffings, rice pancakes, rice puddings, etc.

                                                            1. Dirty rice - a great spicy dish from our Louisiana neighbors that incorporates, ground pork (I use spicy sausage) or liver (I'll pass) onions, celery, green, red and yellow peppers, chicken stock, cayenne pepper, etc,. There are plenty of recipes floating around.