Rose Sangria with Berry Ice

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Rose season is upon us, friends. Rose all day, rose-yay, etcetera, etcetera. I’ve got to be honest, though. I like summer’s official beverage as much as the next person, but I don’t like all rose. A lot of it is too sweet for my taste, too white wine-y, too, well, too rose-all-day-ish, if you know what I mean.

But not this rose. This rose is (a) in sangria form, which is always a good thing, (b) includes rum and Campari, and (c) has too-pretty-to-eat-except-they’re-melting ice cubes that impart a subtly berry flavor to the whole thing.

So yeah. Rose season is upon us. Bring it on, I say.

Rose sangria

Ingredients:

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blackberries
Two (750-ml) bottles rosé
1 cup light rum
3/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup Campari
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Layer the berries in two ice cube trays. Gradually add just enough distilled water to cover. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight, until solid.

2. In a pitcher, stir the wine with the rum, simple syrup, Campari and lemon juice. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

3. Serve sangria in individual glasses with two or three berry ice cubes each.

Velvety Peppers with Vinegar and Sesame Oil

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This side dish is so simple and yet it’s a revelation. You’ve had Italian-style marinated red bell peppers, right? Well, think of these as the Chinese version. Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty, these peppers are velvety, piquant, and earthy at the same time. They keep well and dress up any meal. I love the texture on these.

Peppers with vinegar and sesame oil

Ingredients:

2 red bell peppers
2 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons rice vinegar
salt
2 teaspoons sesame oil

1. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and stems. Steam them for a few minutes until cooked. Set peppers aside to cool.

2. In the meantime, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a small bowl. Add salt to taste.

3. Peel the skins from the peppers, then cut the eppers into strips and place in a serving bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the peppers and mix. Then add the sesame oil and mix again. Serve room temperature or cold.

Garlic Thai Fried Rice

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If I told you this simple, humble plate of only five ingredients is one of the best fried rice dishes I’ve ever had, would you believe me?

I served this alongside grilled chicken but the rice stole the show. With only garlic, green onions, and fish sauce as seasonings, this dish is an umami bomb. The secret lies in duck fat instead of the standard peanut oil. You can buy jarred duck fat at some specialty grocers and it’s worth seeking out as it imparts a subtle meatiness and heft to an otherwise simple dish. It’s not traditional, but I had some in the fridge and wanted to add an extra layer of flavor to the rice. Chicken schmaltz will do just fine as well.

Garlic Thai fried rice

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons duck fat
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cold cooked jasmine rice
2 or 3 green onions, trimmed, slivered lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch lengths
3 teaspoons fish sauce

1. Heat a wok over high heat and add the duck fat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until slightly golden, about 20 seconds. Add the rice, breaking it up as you toss it. With a spatula, keep moving the rice around the wok, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the green onions and fish sauce and stir-fry for another minute. Serve warm.

Egg Flower Soup with Lemongrass and Mushrooms

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This isn’t a traditional egg flower soup recipe by any means. But I love egg flower soup in any permutation and have been making this easy version for years — decades, even! Lemongrass, tomato and nori seaweed are unexpected ingredients here, but trust me, it works. Sometimes, the sum is greater than the parts.

Egg flower soup with lemongrass and mushrooms

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken stock
2 stalks lemongrass, bottom 8 inches, lightly crushed
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps thinly sliced
1 ounce enoki mushrooms, trimmed and separated
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots
1 sheet nori, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 package soft tofu, cut into 2-inch-long x 1-inch long strips
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Bring the chicken stock and lemongrass to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the mushrooms, peas, bamboo shoots, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the tofu, tomatoes, and nori, stirring gently so the tofu does not break apart. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring gently, until the soup returns to a boil and is slightly thickened.

3. Slowly pour in the beaten egg, stirring slowly but constantly to create “egg flowers.” Drizzle in the sesame oil and serve.

Spicy Beef Bulgogi

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The weather may be warming up (at least in California) but grilling season is still a couple of months away. In the meantime, I’ve been satiating my cravings with this spicy beef bulgogi: it’s easy to make on the stovetop but the flavor still imparts a pleasant smoke and char.

This marinade is endlessly adaptable and the final dish is fun to enjoy as a group. I served this alongside lettuce leaves, sticky rice, and homemade ssamjang, or Korean barbecue sauce. I include the recipe for my version below.

Spicy beef bulgogi

Ingredients:

For the bulgogi:

1/3 pear, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound hanger steak, boneless short rib, or sirloin
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
sliced green onions, for serving

For the ssamjang:

5 tablespoons doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
3 1/2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chile paste)
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1⁄2 tablespoons rice syrup
1 tablespoon minced white onion
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 green onion, sliced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced

1. Marinade the beef: combine pear, garlic, soy sauce, gochugaru, ginger, sugar, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag or bowl. Slice meat into very thin strips. Add to marinade, seal bag, and squish everything around until the meat is coated. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes or chill up to 8 hours.

2. Make the ssamjang: In a bowl, add all the ingredients; stir until combined. Set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high until oil is shimmering. Remove half of meat from marinade, letting excess drip back into bag; cook in a single layer without moving until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Toss meat and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through and crisp at edges, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining meat. Serve topped with green onions.