White rice on blue ceramic bowl

Rice recycled thrice: a broke student’s guide to leftovers

Rice is great; it’s cheap, accessible and is the perfect wingman for just about any leftover protein or vegetable you have lying around. I grew up eating it with every meal of the day and I still think of home when I see steam clouds rise to reveal fluffy, shiny grains. We are spoilt for choice with the wide variety available to us allowing for intricate and curated rice/dish pairings.

Fancy cooking up a creamy and nutty butter chicken for a midweek dinner? Basmati’s your best friend.

Did you attempt to imitate the local Thai restaurant because your lockdown food delivery bill has started to rival the price of your rent? Don’t forget to shop for fragrant jasmine rice!

Maybe your local seafood shop had fresh mackerel on sale, and you impulsively bought it because it reminded you of that cancelled Japan trip? Wipe your tears and put short grain rice on the list.

Controversial opinion: yes, rice is versatile, and the possibilities are endless, but this can be both virtue and vice. I say this because like many others, I miscalculate how much rice I need for one and almost always accidentally cook enough to feed a family of ten.

Yes, it may be cheap, but as a student living away from home, throwing food away is not an option and I’ve had to be creative and resourceful. Behold- three ways to recycle leftover rice: a guide for frugal, filling feeds.

1. Cook short grain white rice by matching the rice to water ratio using the lines indicated in the pot (i.e., 2 cups + enough water to fill the pot to the number 2 line indicated). I use a rice cooker to achieve fuss-free, consistent results each time but if you’re not quite ready to take the leap of buying one, here is a detailed guide for you daredevils out there: https://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to-cook-rice/.

Tip: Don’t forget to wash your rice at least twice before cooking and you can pre-soak ahead of time for extra fluff. Once cooked, leave it alone. Please do not wash it again.

To serve, lightly grill your fish of choice and pair with miso soup and pickles for a nutritious and hearty Japanese-style breakfast.

2. Use leftover cold rice to make fan-favourite fried rice! You can add your favourite vegetables and protein but make sure you use garlic and onion as your base aromatics.

Tip: Add the egg to the cold rice and mix it thoroughly instead of scrambling it in the pan. This way, the egg coats each grain to produce a vibrant yellow Instagram-ready dish.

3. Now you have leftover fried rice you say? Fear not, make yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls) with the rest. Using a plastic wrap or bare, *clean* hands that are slightly dampened, gather the cold fried rice into patties and set aside. In a bowl, mix equal parts miso paste, soy sauce, sugar and mirin and brush onto each side of the rice patties. Heat a pan or a griddle and toast each side until caramelised and slightly crispy.

Tip: Any leftover yaki onigiri makes for a great addition to next days lunch box and can be eaten cold.

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