Vegetarian Journal 2006 Issue 2

Vegan Cooking Tips

How to Use Leftover Rice

by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE

Doesn't it always seem that there is leftover rice after a meal? No problem! Leftover rice is great to use. If you have never cooked rice before, first refer back to the May/June 2001 issue of Vegetarian Journal to find the steps to cooking the perfect pot of rice.

Cooling and Storing Extra Rice

Once you have extra portions of rice, cool it down like a pro. Restaurants spread extra hot rice on a cookie sheet or a large plate, depending on how much is left. The rice should be spread in a layer 1-inch thick. This allows the rice to cool evenly, with less sticking when you heat it up. Once the rice is a little cooler than room temperature, you can unlayer it and place it in covered bowls or storage containers. All cooked rice must be stored in the refrigerator for food safety.

By the way, if you like the taste of sushi rice, purchase rice wine vinegar and a dry vegan sweetener, such as turbinado, palm, or date sugar. While your rice is cooling in a thin layer, gently sprinkle a very small amount of vinegar and an even smaller amount of sweetener over the rice. You can eat this rice cold or warmed, with pickled ginger (sold in many grocery stores and Asian markets) and chopped fresh chili. If you are really ambitious, you can chop fresh mushrooms and toss with a little rice wine vinegar and some sesame seeds, add these to the rice, and make a 'jumbled,' rather than rolled, sushi mixture. If you want to be very authentic, the rice should be a short-grained white or brown rice.

Reheating Cooked Rice

To successfully reheat cooked white or brown rice, place it in a container that allows at least 2-3 inches of extra room. Sprinkle with water, vegetable broth, or mushroom broth just to dampen the top. You can cover the container and microwave on HIGH for 1-2 minutes, depending on your microwave and the amount of rice. Or you can preheat your oven to 400 degrees, wrap the moistened rice tightly in aluminum foil, and allow it to heat for 5-8 minutes, depending on the amount of rice. Both methods will give you a steaming bowl of soft rice. Top with canned tomatoes and canned mushrooms, thawed frozen peas, or fresh or thawed frozen broccoli or cauliflower florets. Garnish with granulated garlic flakes, nutritional yeast, chopped walnuts, almonds, peanuts or cashews, or, if you have the time, chopped fresh cabbage tossed with a small amount of soy sauce.

'Rice Milk'

Place extra portions of cold or warm cooked white or brown rice into a blender with a small amount of water (approximately 1 cup rice to 1/4 cup water) to make a 'rice milk.' Use this liquid to thicken a can of soup or as part of your cooking liquid for hot cereals.

You may want to try making hot cocoa with your 'rice milk.' Put one cup of 'rice milk' in a small pot and stir in approximately 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder and rice syrup or other vegan liquid sweetener to taste. Stir and allow to heat. You're done! You'll have a steaming cup of hot cocoa in about 3 minutes.

You can also create your own steamer with 'rice milk.' Heat on the stove and stir in ground cinnamon, powdered ginger, a dash of nutmeg, and some rice syrup, maple syrup, or apple juice concentrate to sweeten.

'Rice milk' can also be the basis for fruit smoothies, combined with blended bananas, mango, pineapple, or watermelon. If you make too much smoothie mix, pour the leftovers into ice cube trays or individual containers to make your own vegan sherbet.


Congee, also called rice porridge, is the Asian version of cream of rice cereal. Congee is made by mixing equal parts of cooked rice and water. Cover this combination and allow the rice to simmer until it becomes extremely mushy. This can be done on the stovetop or in a slow cooker, such as a Crock-Pot®. Some people allow their congee to cook until it resembles a rice gravy.

Plan on putting a pot of congee on to cook when you walk in the door. A small amount (approximately 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water) can simmer away, unattended, for about an hour. This will give you time to relax and to select your garnishes.

Congee is the perfect palette for a savory meal-just top with mushrooms, dried or fresh onions, chopped peanuts or almonds, and lots of black pepper. You can also add small chunks of extra firm tofu that have been tossed with a little soy sauce or hot sauce. Congee is rarely served sweet, but if you would prefer it that way, simply add maple syrup, dried fruit such as raisins, and chopped canned fruit, such as pineapple or peaches.


Extra cooked white or brown rice can be mixed with commercially available vegan 'ground round' to make baked loaves or meatballs. If the mixture is a bit dry, add in some silken tofu. Bake these items with a mushroom or tomato sauce.

Here are some ideas for using extra white or brown rice to create new entrées:

Other Quick Ideas

Combine leftover white or brown rice with any of the following and then microwave or sauté with a small amount of vegetable oil spray:



Spicing up Your Rice

If you eat a lot of rice, consider making your own rice spice blends, including:

Store these spice blends in airtight plastic or glass containers, and remember to label them! Then, simply sprinkle on cooking or cooked hot rice.

Excerpts from the 2006 Issue 2:
Low-Cost Vegan Meal Plans
Dietetic intern Melissa Wong helps young adults, seniors, and families of four eat healthfully without emptying their wallets.
Fiery Vegan Dishes From Around the World
Habeeb Salloum adapts spicy-hot recipes from Latin America, North Africa, Southern Asia, and beyond.
Perchlorate Controversy Calls for Improving Iodine Nutrition
David M. Crohn, PhD, examines the risks of perchlorate consumption and how vegetarians and vegans can improve their iodine health.
Nutrition Hotline
What is tempeh, where can you buy it, and what do you do with it?
Note from the Coordinators
Letters to the Editors
Notes from the VRG Scientific Department
Interviews that our dietitians granted.
Vegan Cooking Tips
How to Use Leftover Rice, by Chef Nancy Berkoff.
Scientific Update
Veggie Bits
Book Reviews
Vegetarian Action
Vegetarianism and Tennis: An Interview with Peter Burwash by Heather Gorn.
Look for These Products in Your Local Market

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.

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Last Updated
May 5, 2006

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