Even though the cooking process of rice seems very simple, things often need to be corrected. No matter how skilled a cook you are, you will inevitably encounter a problem with your rice dish at least once. Fried rice is a delicate dish that can quickly become mushy when cooked improperly. Knowing how to fix mushy fried rice can help you turn an inedible dish into a tasty entrée or dessert. It all comes down to assessing how salvageable your fluffy rice grains are.
Why does rice go mushy?
There could be several reasons. Maybe you overcooked it or added too much water to the stove. When fresh rice absorbs excess moisture and is overcooked, it becomes mushy. This happens because the excess water causes a soggy or mushy texture.
Furthermore, white rice grains split open due to overcooking, so it’s not surprising that it tastes so disappointing when it’s mushy. Once the rice has absorbed too much water, it can taste sticky, gummy, or starchy, changing the consistency too much for the grains to absorb the moisture. Starchy, watery, day-old rice seeps into the whole meal and affects its taste. It can certainly ruin your meal. So, when that happens, it makes sense that you want to fix it.
How to fix mushy fried rice
There are several fixes or solutions available. Your potential options for fixing mushy fried rice depend on how mushy the grains are. For instance, you have multiple options if your rice is only slightly mushy. However, when the rice has absorbed too much moisture leading to the grains splitting, your only solution may be repurposing it.
Here are the different ways to fix mushy fried rice:
Let your fried rice rest
The first thing you should do when you notice that your perfect fried rice is too watery to eat is to wait for it to set for a few minutes at room temperature. Sometimes once the freshly cooked rice cools down, its texture can change. Letting the rice sit also allows some excess water to evaporate. Once the water has evaporated, less moisture will be left in your fried rice. Before you allow your rice to rest, take the lid off the pan. Doing this will allow the steam to escape quickly. It is also recommended that you add a teaspoon of salt to the rice while it is cooling down. It will absorb the extra water.
Use a sift with a fine mesh
Removing the excess water is an excellent way of fixing soggy rice. If your rice is wet or watery but not too gluey and thick, you should be able to rinse the extra moisture. Drain the rice via a sift with a fine mesh. Leave the brown rice in the sift for about a minute or two. This will give enough time for the water to drain out. Next, gently move the rice around with a wooden spoon to let all parts of the ingredient drain.
Use a kitchen towel
Using a kitchen towel is another way to remove moisture from the rice. Follow these instructions:
1. Rinse the rice with cold water and drain any excess water.
2. Use clean kitchen towels and carefully place small quantities of rice between them.
3. Press the rice to let excess moisture absorb into the towel.
This method will help break apart your perfect rice into separate grains. It is beneficial if the grains are stuck together.
Drain extra water and recook
This is another way to fix mushy leftover cooked rice. First, use a strainer or colander to drain the rice to recook the pot of rice for extra time. Then heat the rice on the stovetop. By doing this, any excess moisture will evaporate from the rice. This is one way to recook the mushy fried rice. Another way to do it is to spread the rice over a plate and put it in a microwave for a minute or two. It is recommended that you avoid high heat and use the low setting of the microwave to prevent the fried rice from drying or burning out. If everything goes right, the intense heat will help sufficiently dry out the rice to eliminate the excess water.
If you don’t have a microwave, you can cook off excess water from your fried rice via an oven. ( or a hot wok and instant pot) Set the oven temperature to 350°F and bake the rice on a baking pan for at least 5 minutes until it becomes fluffy grains of rice. This is enough time to fix the mushy rice. When spreading the rice on a baking sheet, spread it evenly and thinly.
Repurpose your sticky rice into a new dish
When your fried rice is too mushy, repurposing it into a new dish is the only viable solution. There are several options available. Rice porridge, chicken fried rice, and rice pudding are excellent ways to repurpose mushy fried rice. The consistency works perfectly for these two dishes as they are still tasty ways to use a batch of rice in a meal.
Experimenting with new rice recipes is an excellent option if you cannot save your leftover rice for its intended purpose but wish to keep it. Fortunately, the above options only require extra ingredients that you may already have in your cupboards. So, it is recommended that you find an easy recipe and grab some milk, sugar, or another available flavor, e.g., vanilla, syrup, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, etc., and make a delicious filling breakfast dish or dessert.
For such a simple grain, rice can be challenging to cook perfectly. If your fried rice becomes mushy, don’t despair. There are several fixes available. Knowing what to do with mushy fried rice is a culinary tip you will undoubtedly appreciate learning. The above-listed methods are practical solutions to fix the problem next time when you add a lot of water to the rice. However, you can make more rice if your fried rice is too mushy or far gone to be saved.