When getting Chinese takeaway, We never eat much of the normal cooked rice that goes with it, always opting for an extra dish of fried rice and/or noodles. My mother usually makes a cold salad the day after with some Cocktail sauce (with ketchup as the tomato sauce), a few varieties of canned fish (mackerel, sardines and anchovy) and some boiled eggs.

The problem is that this rice always turns out somewhat dry, somewhat detracting from the overal quality of the product. It's still edible and tastes good, but the textures are somewhat lacking in my opinion.

I have read "Instant" leftover rice? Making leftover-like rice without the wait? (as in for fried rice), but that's not what I need: I don't have control over the cooking process, and it's not for reheating afterwards. I also don't think this falls under the generic shelf live question, because this isn't about how long it will last, but how to store it short-term so certain negative effects don't occur, for which I cannot find a question (nor a tag).

I'm looking for a method to cool the rice without it turning dry that doesn't involve special attention immediately afterwards or changing the cooking process. With "doesn't involve special attention", I'm talking about something someone can do while unpacking the rest of the food and maybe putting a bit of the rice aside for those that don't like the fried kind.

  • So I understand that you have no control over the initial cooking and holding conditions at the restaurant. I get the impression from your final statement that you are disinterested in applying "special attention immediately afterwards"...which feels nebulously limiting, and does not provide an indication of what you are able to do/willing to do. I am not sure what type of process to suggest if you are unwilling to do anything special after getting the rice... I am not certain that anyone here can do that sort of magic. Please clarify? Sep 3, 2014 at 16:06
  • @LittleWhiteLithe Maybe "immediately afterwards" means you can get the takeout and eat it without worrying about it, but then maybe do something afterwards to preserve it?
    – Cascabel
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:37
  • @Jefromi I would love a bit of clarification on what the OP is willing to do(timewise/effortwise), and when he is able to do it. He seems to need a method that reduces water loss of the rice, but once he has obtained the restaurant rice, it is beginning to cool off and loose water. In my mind (...and I could be wrong) the most effective intervention would begin to mitigate the water loss earlier rather than later, because it would offer the most control over the rice's final dryness. However, the OP states he doesn't want to do anything special for the short term storage. Thoughts? Sep 3, 2014 at 16:54
  • The only thing that comes to mind is adding water back to the storage vessel....which doesn't seem like a great option...and may likely produce wet, gooey gelatinized mess in the bottom of the container, especially if he is working with white short-grain rice. Sep 3, 2014 at 16:59
  • What I am willing to do is something someone can do while unpacking the rest of the food and maybe putting a bit of the rice aside for those that don't like the fried kind. The question I linked mentioned first freezing a tray, then mixing the rice with oil for 5 minutes and spreading it. I don't want to do something that complicated. Cindy's answer is something I really could see myself doing while my mother unpacks the rest of the chinese food.
    – Nzall
    Sep 3, 2014 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


We often do the same thing, saving the rice for another use the next day. Or sometimes I will ask my husband to pick up takeout that I can heat up for lunch the next day. Here's what I recommend.

Immediately upon returning home with your takeout, remove the rice from the take out container, placing in an equal size airtight container. E.g., if you have one pint of rice, place in a pint container. Don't break the rice apart any more than necessary. Press the rice so that it holds tight together in the container just as it was when you removed it from the takeout container. Put the lid on right away. Refrigerate to store.

By placing in an airtight container right away, you are shortening the amount of time that moisture can evaporate. By using the same size container there shouldn't be an excessive amount of airspace in the container.

I follow this procedure and the rice comes out the next day just like it went in, still moist. Plus it doesn't really require any excessive time or effort.

  • This is close to what I prefer to do as well. However the OP clearly states that he doesn't want to do anything special immediately afterwards...which is key for optimum water retention. Sep 3, 2014 at 17:12
  • I may be wrong but I think that OP is looking for an easy solution and something that is not an involved process.
    – Cindy
    Sep 3, 2014 at 17:19
  • LOL, goes to show what sort of people I work with regularly. Some of my lazier friends wouldn't make it through anything with more than 1 step(lasting 25 sec or more), especially if it needed to precede consuming food. Sep 3, 2014 at 17:29
  • I want to have something a person can do while another person is opening all the packaging of the rest of the dishes. This seems about right for that effort.
    – Nzall
    Sep 3, 2014 at 18:00

If I'm understanding you right (please let me know if I'm not), you're wanting to hold on to rice for a day or two and have it still seem fresh (not all dried out like it gets in the fridge), right?

If that's the case, all you need to do is put the rice in a Ziploc baggie (as much as you'll use at one time) and put it in the freezer. The fridge dries out rice, the freezer does not. If you have a microwave you can heat (or just defrost) the rice right in the bag when you're ready to use it. It will seem just like it did when you brought it home. if you don't have a microwave, you can just drop the sealed bag right into a pan of simmering water until it's defrosted. If you want the rice cold, you can quickly defrost it, still sealed in the bag, under cold running water. Even completely sealed, the rice will dry out after a few hours in the fridge,

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