Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From "Mmmmmm. . . . ." Ruth Reichl's Fried Rice

Most people know that Ruth Reichl was the last editor of Gourmet magazine and that she’s written a number of best-selling books, but have you ever read her first book?
“Mmmmmmm: A Feastiary” was published in 1972, and is it ever a treasure.
I was really lucky to get my hands on a real live copy of this out of print book. What a find! Her writing is so honest, sassy, sensual, funny, earthy and sophisticated, all at the same time. The recipes are practical, straightforward, un-fussy, and full of flexibility and flavor.
The first recipe I tried was Fried Rice and it wasn’t really a recipe, of course, more a formula, a how-to, as is most of the book. And the recipe was in a chapter of the book called “Fat Food for Lean Times,” full of ideas for stretching food dollars.
Here’s how she introduces Fried Rice: “Fried rice is one of my standbys. It is easy, delicious, filling and can be made with just about anything you have in the house.” And that’s exactly what I was doing in one of my “gotta use up what’s left in the fridge” modes.
Before the recipe, let me tell you how I got the book: I “borrowed” it from the school library where I was substitute teaching one day. I told the librarian how hard it was to find one of these books – last I checked on Amazon, you could get it for around $80 – and she allowed that I could keep it through the school year. (I didn’t tell her how valuable it was!) I’ve already read it several times, and now I’m really beginning to cook from it. More, soon, in an upcoming installment . . .
Now, without further ado, here’s how Ruth Reichl describes how to make Fried Rice. (One of these days, I’ll figure out how to make printable recipes; in the meantime, please muddle through with me.)

Fried Rice 
From Ruth Reichl’s “Mmmmmm . . . . A Feastiary”
  • Whatever meat or fish or poultry you have leftover in the house, shredded. If you don’t have any meat, it is fine without
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • Cabbage, green pepper, carrots, if you have them
  • 1 scallion, sliced, if you have it
  • Tomatoes, if you want
  • 3 t sherry mixed with ½ cup chicken broth or water
  • 4 t soy sauce mixed with ¼ t sugar and a little pepper 
Heat pan until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and a little salt. Heat. Break egg and scramble. Add onion, garlic and other vegetables, except for scallion and tomato, if you’re using them. Add meat. Now add sherry mixture and stir for thirty seconds. Add and stir rice. Cover for 45 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Add soy mixture and, if you’re using, the scallions and tomatoes, and stir again.
Serves 2.


  1. Looks absolutely delicious and yummy!

  2. What a neat opportunity to have your hands on such a hard-to-find book. It looks like it has a treasure of great recipes. My husband and I adore fried rice, and we don't make it at home as much as we should. Now I have a new recipe to try. Thank you for sharing~

  3. I was given this book in November 1972 when I was in my second year of university. Little did I know how valuable it would become to me. I have made many of the recipes and a number of them have become my absolute favourites.....jambalaya, rhubarb pie, moussaka...need I say more. Mine is much the worse for wear but the original price is still in the front $7.95. It is a treasure stains and all!


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