Recipe Review

Crispy Rice Is a Fun Way to Turn Leftover Rice into a Whole New Dish

published Sep 17, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

There’s been a recent uptick of people creating crispy rice dishes on TikTok, and it definitely piqued my curiosity. When it comes to the age-old dilemma of using up leftover rice, my immediate thought is always to make fried rice. But this TikTok pan-fried crispy rice looked like a great alternative to that — and I knew I had to try it.

Of course, crispy rice is nothing new. Rice-eating cultures have long had creative ways of crisping the usually-tender staple food. This TikTok version of crispy rice, sometimes called crispy sushi, creates a restaurant-style base for toppings. MyHealthyDish and LovelyDelites both prepared equally mouthwatering creations and made it look too simple, so I obviously felt inclined to step up to the plate and see for myself if it’s as easy and delicious as they claim. Join me on this journey to crispy, crunchy rice.

How to Make Crispy Rice

For the sake of my homemade crispy rice trial, I adhered more closely to MyHealthyDish’s preparation (although it seems nearly identical to that of LovelyDelites). To start, you’ll need a few cups of cooked sushi rice (ideally a day or two old for the proper texture). Take the leftover rice and place it into a plastic wrap-lined baking dish and press until it’s about 3/4-inch thick. 

Freeze for at least 45 minutes or until it holds together like one big plank. Dust both sides with flour or cornstarch, then use a knife to cut the rice into small squares or rectangular planks. Fry in neutral cooking oil until crispy and golden-brown on all sides. Let them cool slightly, then top with sushi-grade fish, avocado, or chopped veggies and enjoy ‘em immediately.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review

This was really fun to make and a super-clever way to use up leftover sushi rice. Even if you’re not typically dealing with leftover rice at home, it’s easy enough to cook a batch of rice the day before you plan to make the crispy rice. The dish feels like something you’d only get in a restaurant, even though you made it right in the comfort of your own kitchen.

The most difficult part for me was keeping the rice together in a solid, cohesive plank. It took me closer to an hour and 30 minutes for the rice to come together in the freezer. Once it was easy to cut through, the frying part was quite fun and the rice became super golden and crispy.

I topped a few of mine with a spicy cucumber and avocado mixture and a few others with a spicy sesame tuna mixture. The process of making the crispy rice was relatively easy and fun, but definitely requires more time than simply turning leftover rice into fried rice. If you don’t mind waiting for the rice to firm up in the freezer and then pan-frying the planks, then I would highly recommend trying out this technique.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Top 4 Tips for Making Crispy Rice

  1. Get creative with toppings. If you want to go all out, you can buy your favorite sushi-grade fish and mix it up with Sriracha, sesame oil, soy sauce, or your favorite condiments and aromatics. If you don’t want to include fish, you certainly don’t need to: Play around with avocado, seaweed, cucumber, and any other veggies you like. There are no wrong answers here.
  2. Be patient with the freezer. Don’t try to cut the rice until it’s barely frozen. Every freezer is different. If you try to slice through the rice block and it starts to fall apart, put it back in your freezer for at least another 30 minutes until it has had time to firm up.
  3. Be patient with the stove. The whole point of this technique is to make crispy rice, so that means letting the rice planks cook until they are amply golden-brown and crunchy. If they are looking a little pale after a few minutes, don’t rush to flip them: Let them brown before flipping.
  4. Don’t plan on leftovers. These lose their luster after sitting in the fridge for a day, so only make as many as you plan to eat.