What to Do with Leftover White Rice: An Asian Guide

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White rice in a pan with a text "what to do with leftover white rice"

What to do with leftover white rice? We’re asking serious life questions here, folks. 

So brace yourself…

You can start by mixing it with slaked lime and build the next Great Wall. 

An amazing feat that continues to inspire awe today. 

Or, you can attend a wedding in the Philippines and throw rice grains with coins at newlyweds. 

This act symbolizes fertility and prosperity. It’s a way of wishing the couple a happy life together. 

Perhaps you can visit Japan and participate in a rice-planting festival called Taue during the early summer.  

Rituals and folk performances are made where people pray for a good harvest. 

Rice is so incredibly versatile, inexpensive, and filling (in more ways than one). 

And no, I’m not just saying this because I’m Asian. 

Leftover or not, white rice or whichever variation, there’s just no denying how much of an impact rice has made in our lives. 

Rice to Meet You

White rice in a wooden bowl.

White rice doesn’t naturally happen. There’s a process involved to transform brown into white. 

Rice polishing starts with removing the outer husk. 

Then, both the bran and germ are removed leaving the starchy endosperm behind. 

Lastly, the grain is further refined to give it a glossy appearance. 

But why is it that white rice is more popular than its brown counterpart? I mean, brown rice is easier and healthier.

It might be the longer shelf life.

Or the faster cooking time. 

Probably the softer texture. 

But with all those white rice perks, brown rice still stands tall with its nutritional value. 

Because the more polishing is performed on rice, the less nutrients it retains. 

But hey, who are we to say who’s better and what not?

The only thing we need to ponder on is what to do with your leftover white rice. 

That’s a Rice Surprise

Are you ready for today’s culinary adventure? 

As usual, your eyes were bigger than your stomach. That’s for the nth time now! 

But let’s not dwell much on that. It already happened. 

Let’s just focus on the task at hand, what to do with leftover white rice:

Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice in a dish platter.

The fermentation process of kimchi preserves the vegetables and enhances the nutritional value. 

The dish is a powerhouse in Korean culture because it symbolizes resilience and resourcefulness. 


  • 2 cups of leftover white rice
  • 1 cup of chopped kimchi 
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp of gochujang 
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil
  • ½ cup of chopped scallions
  • Sesame seeds for garnish 


  • Wok
  • Spatula
  • Bowl


  1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Scramble the eggs until cooked. 
  2. Add kimchi and the leftover rice. Make sure to break the clumps. 
  3. Drizzle the soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir-fry everything for 2-3 minutes until the rice becomes slightly crispy. 
  4. Put the gochujang and scrambled eggs, then mix everything thoroughly.
  5. Garnish with extra kimchi, scallions, and sesame seeds before serving.

Spam Musubi 

Next up is a delightful Hawaiian icon that’s a combination of Spam, rice, and seaweed. 

Spam Musibu came to be during World War II when American troops were stationed in Hawaii. They came with Spam, and so the locals modified their cuisine to infuse it. 

The word ‘musubi’ means “to tie” in Japanese. It’s in reference to the way the seaweed keeps everything together. 


  • 2 cups of leftover white rice
  • 1 can of sliced Spam (about ¼ inch thick)
  • 1 sheet of nori cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of mirin
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • Sesame seeds as garnish 


  • Small bowl
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Spatula
  • Plastic wrap


  1. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, and mirin in a small bowl to make a glaze.
  2. Heat the oil in your skillet over medium fire. Then, fry the Spam slices until they’re golden brown and crispy.

Cook for about 1-2 minutes per side. 

  1. Wet your hands slightly, take some rice, and form ½ inch rectangular shapes. 
  2. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a surface. Lay a strip of nori. 
  3. Position a slice of Spam then place the rice on top. Make sure to press gently. 
  4. Using the plastic wrap, roll the nori and rice together to enclose the Spam. 
  5. After sealing the first one with little water, do the same with the remaining Spam slices. 
  6. Dip the ends of the musubi in sesame seeds before serving. 


Congee in a bowl with spoon on the side.

For our last recipe, we’ve taken inspiration from a Chinese rice porridge. 

Congee comes from cooking rice in a large amount of water until it becomes a creamy porridge. 

Egg is also a common addition that creates a silky texture. 

Did you know that congee works wonders for the tummy? At least according to Chinese emperors way back then. 


  • 2 cups of leftover white rice
  • 10 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (or just water, really)
  • 2 inch ginger
  • 2 smashed cloves of garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • For an extra touch, you can add: sliced green onions, soft-boiled egg, fried shallots, chopped peanuts


  • Large pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle


  1. Mix the leftover rice and broth in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Toss in the ginger and garlic.
  3. Increase the heat to high and bring everything to a boil. 
  4. Reduce the heat to low when the mixture is boiling. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes and make sure to stir occasionally.
  5. If it becomes thick, add more broth. If it’s too thin, let it simmer for longer. 
  6. Season with salt before serving. 

The Grain Finale

You did it, you culinary master! You once again conquered the leftovers that’s been daunting you since last night. 

And if a Nobel Prize is granted for leftover mastery, you’d be a top contender. No doubt!

So take this as a sign. You have what it takes to turn those sad leftovers into these amazing dishes. 

What to do with leftover white rice? 

Now, you know three!

And remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single grain of rice 😉

Or something along those lines…

Let’s end it here for now, shall we? I know for one that you still have a date with destiny. 

Destiny being that leftover white rice in the back of your fridge. 

Enjoy cooking!

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