How to Dry Out Rice Quickly for Fried Rice
The worst part of making fried rice is the rice itself; it always winds up soggy. If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried making fried rice with freshly-cooked rice only to be disappointed by the results. You’ve probably also tried making fried rice with leftover cooked rice only to discover that your leftover cooked rice is too wet, too.
The solution to this problem is simple: dry your rice before cooking it! Drying cooked rice may sound weird, but I promise that if you try this technique for your next batch of fried rice, you’ll never want to make it any other way.
Here’s how to do it:
Cook 1 cup long-grain white or brown rice (or other kinds) in a saucepan according to the instructions on the package (if using white rice, rinse it before cooking). When the cooked rice is cool enough to handle, spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer until completely cooled through and almost dry, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
10 Ways To Dry Out Rice Quickly for Fried Rice
To make good fried rice, you need to use day-old rice that’s cooled completely. If you cook and cool the rice ahead of time, you can make a batch of fried rice in minutes. But what if you want to make fried rice tonight and don’t have any day-old rice on hand?
Let’s look at some ways to do it…
1. Use a rice cooker
Rice cookers usually have a “keep warm” setting that keeps the rice at a temperature high enough to kill moisture. Just leave it in there until the rice is dry.
2. Use a microwave
If you don’t have a rice cooker, microwaves can do the trick. Cover the rice with a paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds at a time, checking to see if the rice is dry between each 30-second cycle.
3. Use an oven
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees F (90 degrees C). Spread out on sheet pan and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Stir, spread out again and place back in the oven for 5 more minutes or until dry.
4. Use a wok
Using medium heat add 1/2 cup of freshly cooked rice to your wok and stir lightly, allowing excess moisture to evaporate while keeping the grains fluffy. Make sure you don’t overheat the rice and keep stirring it frequently so it doesn’t stick together or burn on one side. Transfer to a new dish if you feel like one side of the wok is getting hotter than the other side or if you need to switch to another pan before all of your rice is dried out.
5. Refrigerate The Rice
Place the rice in a bowl and rinse it several times with cold water to remove any dust, debris, or excess starch. Fill a saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and cook for about 10 minutes, until the rice is soft enough to easily bite through, but not mushy. Drain the rice in a sieve or colander.
Place the strained rice on a baking sheet and spread it out so that it forms an even layer. Put it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes to dry it out before using it in your recipe. You can also use other cooling methods for quicker results, like bagging the rice with ice cubes or immersing it in ice water.
6. Use a strainer
Place the rice in the strainer and rinse under cold running water. Stir with your fingers until the water runs clear. Repeat until the water runs mostly clear. This can take 5-10 minutes depending on how much rice you are making. After it has finished, shake the strainer to remove any excess water and place it in a bowl to dry for 10-15 minutes.
7. Use paper towels
Layout several sheets of paper towels and spread rice over them, shaking to distribute evenly. Place another paper towel on top and gently press down to remove excess moisture. Repeat with additional paper towels until no more wetness can be removed from the rice. Spread out on a plate or tray to dry for 10-15 minutes.
8. Use a fan
Place rice in a large bowl. Turn on an electric fan so that it is blowing directly over the rice. Spread the rice out so that it is a thin layer in the bottom of the bowl. The fan will blow over the rice and dry it out quickly. If you don’t have an electric fan, open a window and use a regular fan to blow over the rice.
9. Use a non-stick frying pan
This is the easiest method to dry rice. Simply heat up a non-stick pan and add in the rice, breaking up any clumps as you go. Stir every few minutes until it’s no longer sticky.
10. Spread the rice out in a thin layer on a plate or pan
The thinner the layer, the less time it will take to dry out. You can also spread it on paper towels or in a colander.
In summary, Dry rice is tricky because the water in it has a high level of starch. When you fry something with dry ice, the water in the grain absorbs extra oil, becoming gloopy and greasy. A little bit of water will help it cook more evenly, but too much will make it taste soggy.
Here’s an easy way to keep that from happening: mix a little oil into your dry rice before you cook it, just enough so that when the rice is cooked through and has absorbed all its oil, the bottom layer looks like there’s a little pool of oil on top.
The secret is to not use too much oil in the first place. You need to use just enough so that the rice doesn’t stick together when you stir it with a spatula. Too much oil makes it all gloppy.