Braised short ribs, Maryland crab cakes on the menu for state dinner with South Korean president

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Maryland crab cakes, braised short ribs, a banana split, and a Merlot will be on the White House menu Wednesday night when President Biden and first lady Jill Biden host South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife, Kim Keon Hee at the administration’s second state dinner.

At a preview of the dinner on Monday, Mrs. Biden said its theme will be finding the “common threads of humanity that connect, that transcend our differences and building on those shared values.”

“We hope to bring those two ideas together as we welcome President Yoon and Mrs. Kim, honoring the 70 years of our alliance with symbols and moments of beauty that reflect both our countries,” she said.

Guests will sit at tables with decorated tablecloths painted with swirls of colors mirroring the South Korean flag. The tables will sit underneath cherry trees, which are common in both South Korea and Washington.

“You have to admit that’s pretty spectacular,” Mrs. Biden said of the cherry trees.

Chef Edward Lee, a Korean-American James Beard Award winner with restaurants in Washington, D.C., and Louisville, Kentucky, will serve as a guest chef alongside White House executive chef Cris Comerford and her staff. Mr. Lee was chosen because of his experience intersecting American food with South Korean influence.

The first course will include Maryland crab cakes, along with a cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel, and cucumber slaw dish. It will also feature a yellow squash soup and cured strawberries with perilla leaf oil. Guests will wash it down with a Ferdinand Albarino “Vista Luna Vineyard” from 2020.

The main course will include braised short ribs and butter bean grits with sorghum-glazed carrots and pine nuts. A Januik Merlot from 2020 will be served with the main course.

For dessert, guests can chow down on a banana split, lemon bar ice cream, and mint ginger snap cookies.

“I wanted to showcase the best of American cuisine merged with a touch of Korean flavors,” Mr. Lee said. “It’s always a delight for me to be able to create the intersection of flavors for the guests and see how well they blend together.”

Guests will be entertained by three Broadway stars — Norm Lewis, Jessica Vosk, and Lea Salonga, who was the singing voice for Disney’s princesses, Jasmine and Mulan.

The elaborate state dinner is the second for the Bidens as president and first lady. In December, they hosted French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

Mr. Yoon and his wife will arrive on Tuesday night, when Mr. Biden is scheduled to take them to the Korean War Veterans Memorial for a visit.

On Wednesday, the two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting followed by a joint news conference.

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