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!

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    Can you clarify? Do you mean leaving rice in a steamer on the auto setting so that it stays warm over night...or do you mean refrigerating already cooked rice, then using it later...or room temperature cooked rice...we need more information to help. – moscafj Jan 21 '17 at 13:34
  • I mean old steamed rice, in the way Asians typically do it / have been doing it, probably in the refrigerator or at room temperature - whatever way they do it. Thank you :) – Nia Jan 21 '17 at 19:30
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    Asians constitute about 60% of the worlds population, representing many cultures and cuisines. There is tremendous variability in how they cook, store and use rice. These practices don't trump basic food safety practices. Using the search bar, input 21068. That will take you to a question about basic food safety. – moscafj Jan 21 '17 at 21:37
  • Okay. So, maybe Chinese then.... – Nia Jan 22 '17 at 17:41
  • Thank you, moscafj! :) guess I'll close the question now since no one knows. But I appreciate the reference :) – Nia Jan 22 '17 at 17:50

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.

  • "If the rice is ladled from the cooker by a scoop that only comes into contact with the rice" - WRONGZORS!!!, certain rice types have a risk of heat resistant cereus spore contamination. Meaning, even if cooked in a sterile environment, treat it like it was subjected to the usual contamination risks. Common advice is to treat it like other cooked food AT BEST, which means refrigerate within 2 hours or serve immediately within 4. – rackandboneman Jan 25 '17 at 8:39
  • @rackandboneman - I'm sorry, you're talking about a contaminant that already would exist or not exist on the rice, and would not be introduced by any kind of outside source. Where, in my answer, does it suggest, AT ALL, that it should not be "treated like other cooked food?" Did you see my "NOTE:"? OP said she assumed normal refrigeration, etc. It's only "WRONGZORS" if you have a basic reading deficiency. There's nothing extra dangerous about rice, compared to other foods, almost all of which carry some risk of contamination. That's why they don't last forever after cooking. – PoloHoleSet Jan 25 '17 at 17:32

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