Can someone knowledgeable about Asian cuisine and cooking culture please give me a reason why it's safe to use old steamed rice in a recipe? I know people in Asia typically use old rice to make some common recipes (fried rice, congee, etc.) without a second thought, but I'm constantly told by Westerners that it is risky due to bacteria growth. Anyone know different? Thanks in advance!
Cooked rice is not generally considered among the things (like bread, dried fruit...) to which the 2/4 hour rule does not apply - and also, cooked rice stored at room temperature is known as a considerable bacillus cereus risk.
Some people storing it unrefrigerated does not mean it is safe to do so.
For the same reason why it's safe or unsafe to use ANY kind of leftover cooked food. Initially, right after cooking, we know that it's pretty safe because it's been boiled/steamed for an extended period of time. Depending on how it's stored after that, the risk of contamination wouldn't seem to be any greater with rice than other foods. If the rice is ladled from the cooker by a scoop that only comes into contact with the rice, there's no reason to suspect that it should be especially contaminated with pathogens, on its own.
NOTE: OP, in comments, said she was not assuming that it was being kept out at room temperature.