Cheat Codes: Tips For Reheating Rice
Rice is a big staple in many cultures’ diets. Pretty much everyone outside of Europe has been dumping rice on the sides of their plates since basically forever. And in modern day, everyone eats rice. That’s right, everyone. Even gluten-free people. With good reason too! Rice is a really effective side-dish, is easy to prepare, and unless you’ve got blood-sugar disorders it’s pretty innocuous in your diet. Interesting fact I learned a couple years ago, all you Italians out there, know how your mother/grandmother would whip up a pot of sauce on Sunday, then you’d just use that sauce all week for different dishes? Many Asian families have done the same thing in a similar manner using a pot of rice. Call me a traitor, but I forgo the pot of sauce, and instead use the weekly rice batch for my own meals ranging from burritos to curries. Rice is great and versatile, but actually come to think of it, there’s a lot of people who aren’t really sure how to heat it up correctly.
The two easiest ways of warming your rice back up for reconsumption are via microwave and on the stovetop. Microwaving is convenient and handy, but when dealing with larger amounts of rice you should use the stovetop. I generally find that when I’m making a burrito, it helps to just warm up about 1/2 cup of rice which is fine to do in the microwave.
My basic rule of thumb is if you’re heating up more than 1 1/2 cups of rice, use the stovetop. Anything below that you can easily use the microwave for.
Microwaving your rice is probably going to be the most common way of reheating it since you only need the stovetop for a large amount. To warm your rice back up in the microwave, add it into a container and spread it into a thin, flat layer. You can add in any leftover meats or vegetables you want to heat up as well on top, but this will increase the time it takes to cook.
The important thing with microwaving is to maintain the food’s moisture content. It’s easy to dry stuff out in the microwave, and rice tends to dry out especially easily if microwaved improperly. At the same time, too much water will leave it mushy and soggy.
My special, patented technique for keeping your foods moist is by quickly running water off my hand into the rice. Basically, place your container next to the sink and turn your water on. Make a small cup with your fingers and catch a little bit of water into it. Now take this water and sprinkle it over the rice. It sounds convoluted, but trust me, it’s the easiest way to do this. The idea is to get a little bit of water evenly distributed around the rice but without saturating it. If you just plop a teaspoon of water in, it’s all gonna sit in one spot and you’ll have soggy rice in that one spot. Trying to trickle water in slowly via your faucet sounds good, but in reality it’ll probably also create soggy rice since you can’t see how much water is pooling under the rice. Just go with the fingers technique, it never fails.
If you’re particularly squeamish or feel weird touching water that goes into the food with bare hands, or you just happen to have particularly dirty fingers and don’t want to clean them, you COULD also invest in a spray bottle and use that to mist the rice too. That will work, but come on just use your hand.
Once it’s hydrated, cover with your container’s lid, and microwave for approximately 1-2 minutes, depending on your microwave’s power level.
Believe it or not but stovetop is a lot simpler than the microwave. You’ll probably only use it for reheating a bunch of rice, typically for when you’re heating it up for a group of people for a meal or something, though.
To do this, simply get a pot large enough to fit all the rice in, and pour just enough water into the bottom to create a shallow layer maybe 1/2″ deep. Place the pot on your stove and heat for about 1 minute to get the water hot. Add your rice into the pot and smush it down so that it’s not stuck together. Cover the pot and cook for 3-5 minutes, then give it a good stir to make sure the rice is mixed up well. Leave it on the burner for another minute or two, depending on how much rice you’re making, until the rice is tender and edible again. That’s all there is to it.
- Invest in a permanent microwave container like the one picture above. While research has been here and there about the dangers of microwaving your food in plastic, most of the claimed hazards have focused on hard, clear plastic for allowing carcinogens to seep into your food via the container. Instead, get some nice microwave-safe ones made of opaque, safer plastics. For example, Nordic Ware products all tend to be free of the chemical BPA, the main chemical at the heart of plastic controversy. Your classic, flimsy Tupperware is good for storing food, but I’d recommend against microwaving it. In all honesty, better quality containers will heat your food better and they’re not expensive at all. So you’re better off buying one anyway, regardless of whether BPA exposure is a hazard or not. Either way, you’re better off safe than sorry!
- These methods for heating up rice can apply to any and all rice. White rice, brown rice, pilaf, yellow rice, etc… It all works the same.
- If you’re adding vegetables or meat on top of your rice to go with it, add an additional minute to the cooking time. The more food in the container, the longer it takes for everything to heat up.