One of the biggest mistakes beginners make when cooking fried rice is using freshly-steamed rice. It can make the dish a big, mushy mess!
Now, the question is how to dry out rice to make fried rice. After all, you need non-sticky, dehydrated, and slender rice grains to cook this scrumptious Asian dish.
The most effective way to dry out fresh rice for fried rice is to bake the rice for five to ten minutes in the oven. Alternatively, you can refrigerate the fresh rice for 30 minutes to dehydrate the grains or spread it on a tray and let it cool at room temperature.
Can You Use Fresh Rice for Fried Rice?
I’ve always wondered what happens when you use freshly-boiled rice for fried rice instead of old rice. Unfortunately, I realized it was not the best idea when I tried it myself.
Fried rice requires a dry and firm consistency to absorb the Asian flavors and taste authentic. Using fresh-boiled rice did not produce this desired result.
Remember that fresh rice contains excess moisture, which gets released when you stir-fry it with vegetables and sauces; this can create a final dish that is mushy and bland-tasting.
How to Dry Out Rice for Fried Rice?
I swear by using one-day-old refrigerated rice for cooking fried rice as it has a fluffy and slender texture without the excess moisture of fresh rice.
However, if you are preparing the dish from scratch and don’t have leftover rice, I suggest following the methods below to dehydrate fresh rice.
Method 1: Use an Oven
Besides the refrigerator method, this is my favorite hack for drying rice. It’s quick, efficient, and does the job!
All you have to do is spread the rice evenly on a baking tray. Then, place the tray in the oven and bake for five to ten minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you’re following this method, keep checking the rice every five minutes to ensure it doesn’t lose all its moisture. You don’t want to end up with rice that’s harder than a rock!
Method 2: Use Less Water for Boiling Rice
This method is only applicable if you haven’t already boiled the rice.
The general rule of thumb is to use two cups of water for boiling for every cup of rice. However, I suggest reducing the water’s quantity to between 1 and 1 ½ cups to get dryer rice.
You must be careful while following this method, as the rice may burn if you boil it for too long. It may also stick to the cooking pot’s surface because of its low water content.
Method 3: Spread the Rice on a Tray
You should opt for this method if you don’t want to do much work drying the rice and have extra time.
You must transfer the freshly-boiled rice from the cooking pot to a tray. Then, spread the grains evenly and let them cool for at least 30 to 40 minutes.
While following this method, I also switch on the fan to speed up the cooling process.
Method 4: Refrigerate or Freeze the Rice
Refrigerating or freezing fresh rice is one of the most effective and straightforward drying methods, as the low temperatures in the fridge and freezer cannot hold moisture well.
First, spread the rice on a tray and wait for the grains to decrease to room temperature if it’s too hot. Then, place it in the fridge or freezer. There’s no need to cover the tray with anything as we want to dry the rice quickly.
It may take up to 30 minutes for rice to dry out in the refrigerator and 15 minutes in the freezer.
Method 5: Use an Ice Bowl
Try this method if you want the rice to dry in less than 10 minutes. Although, it may take some work on your end!
- Take a big bowl and fill it with 10 to 20 ice cubes.
- Then, take a smaller bowl and fill it with fresh rice.
- Place the rice bowl inside the ice bowl.
- Next, get a fork and fluff the rice gently at intervals of two minutes.
- Continue the process for at least 10 minutes.
The rice grains on the cold outer side of the bowl will dry out. Mixing the rice will bring all the grains into contact with the icy bowl.
Be careful: I once followed this method too roughly and ended up with broken rice grains. Ensure that you fluff the rice slowly and gently.
Can You Fix Mushy Fried Rice?
The most common reason behind soggy fried rice is using freshly-cooked rice. If you end up committing the same mistake, don’t worry! I did, too, and came up with some of the best fixes. Here are the best methods I have found to fix soggy fried rice:
1. Bake the Rice
This method is my go-to fix for when any rice, including fried rice, gets mushy.
All you need to do is grease an oven tray and empty the fried rice onto it. Then, bake the moisture away for five to ten minutes at 365 degrees Fahrenheit.
The oven’s high heat can evaporate the extra water from the fried rice.
2. Absorb Extra Moisture Using Paper Towels
If your fried rice is only a little mushy, use paper towels to reduce the moisture content.
Simply take two to three paper towels and lightly press on the fried rice. Continue the process until the paper towels have absorbed the excess water.
Note: A particular emphasis on ‘lightly’ as dabbing or pressing too hard may break the fried rice grains.
3. Keep Frying on High Heat
Overcrowding your fried rice is another reason for mushiness. Having too much rice in one pot causes the grains to keep absorbing the moisture before it ever gets the chance to evaporate.
I recommend separating one huge batch into two batches and then stir-frying each on high heat for three to four minutes.
No matter what anyone says, fried rice tastes the best when you cook it with day-old refrigerated rice. However, if you don’t have rice leftovers, you can cook it fresh and dry it out by following the abovementioned methods.
The best and quickest option is an oven, but you can also use a refrigerator or freezer to dry the rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which rice is not suitable for fried rice?
For best fried rice results, you should avoid small-grain varieties like Japanese sushi rice, as it can get clumpy while cooking. Short-grain rice may also not hold the flavors of the vegetables and sauces as well as longer grain options.
Why is my fried rice sticky?
Fried rice gets sticky due to overcooked or fresh rice, multiple wet ingredients, or stir-frying in a too-small wok.