What to do with your leftover rice?

Have leftover rice from takeout or home cooking? No worries. Here are some great tips on how you can use it.

Rice is the most common side in Asian cuisine. No matter if it is Thai, Vietnamese, Indian or Chinese takeout, more often than not you will have more rice in that little white cardboard box than you need for one meal. You bring it home and store in the refrigerator with the best intention of eating it the following day. But when you finally get around to opening it the next day, you discover a solid brick of hard rice that you have no idea what to do with.

Michigan State University Extension provides you with the following tips to turn leftover rice it into a time- and budget-friendly meal.  

Fried Rice

This is the most common and easiest way to give the leftover rice a makeover. Here are the steps:

  • Place leftover rice in a Ziploc bag and break down the brick of rice into small separated grains.
  • Chop some vegetables, like onion, bok choy, green onion, and carrots.
  • Add in some protein, like eggs, Tofu, pork, or chicken slices
  • Condiments include soy sauce or salt. If you like sesame oil, you can add it to taste.
  • In a hot pan, drizzle some olive oil or vegetable oil and throw in some pieces of chopped garlic
  • Add in beaten eggs (if you choose to use eggs)
  • Add in all chopped ingredients
  • Add in rice and condiments
  • Enjoy!

Make it Fresh Again

If you want to bring the leftover rice back to life, you can do so in the microwave. To microwave, simply put the rice in a bowl and place a damp paper towel on top of it. Then heat it up for 30 second in the microwave or until warm. When you hear “ding”, it is time to enjoy a bowl of fluffy rice.

Cook it to Death

Leftover rice is perfect for making Chinese congee, which is a type of rice porridge popularly served in lots of Asian countries. In a pot or rice cooker, add in broken-downed rice and some chicken stock (or any stock of your choice). To make it more colorful and healthy, add in chopped vegetable and some protein. Stir the rice constantly if you are using a pot. Cook until the rice becomes very soft.

Rice Pudding

If you desire something sweet, make a bowl of rice pudding for yourself! In a pot, add in rice and milk. Cook until the rice becomes tender and milk thickened. Add in some fresh fruits like strawberries and blueberries along with a pinch of grounded cinnamon. You can also add in some honey to provide a natural, sweet taste.

Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri)

If you like to be creative, you can also turn the leftover rice into cute little art in your or child’s lunch box. First, heat up the rice in the microwave. Then, cook up some Teriyaki chicken or protein of your choice. Chop the chicken into small pieces. In your palm, scoop out some rice and flatten it. You can then use it to wrap in the chicken and make it into a ball. That is the traditional shape. You can also make it into cute shapes, like a panda, triangle, or even a minion.

When cooking, be mindful of the amount of salt and sugar that you add to your meal. Michigan State University Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating and food safety. 

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