The braised beef short ribs, the main course, are topped with sorghum-glazed carrots and served on a dollop of grits made from butter beans instead of corn
Joe Biden. Pic/AFP
Some 200 people from politics, business and entertainment are expected at the White House on Wednesday evening for a fancy black-tie dinner hosted by President Joe Biden to honor South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his country's 70-year alliance with the United States. Guests will be seated in the East Room, the largest in the executive mansion, at tables topped with towering centerpieces of cherry tree boughs in full bloom.
They will dine on crabcakes, beef ribs and banana splits. First lady Jill Biden, who oversaw planning for what will be the administration's second state dinner, recruited Korean American celebrity chef Edward Lee to whip up a menu showcasing the "best of America" " but with Korean touches. Lee is known for putting a Korean twist on American food. "It's not traditional Korean food but just gives you a little hint of Korean flavors," he said this week as the White House previewed the dinner setup. The crabcake appetizer comes with a slaw of cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel and cucumber topped with a vinaigrette made using gochujang, a red chili paste and a bowl of chilled yellow squash soup. The braised beef short ribs, the main course, are topped with sorghum-glazed carrots and served on a dollop of grits made from butter beans instead of corn.
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Dessert is a deconstructed banana split, an American classic, featuring lemon bar ice cream, caramelized bananas, fresh berries and mint ginger snap cookie crumble drizzled with a caramel sauce infused with doenjang, a fermented soybean paste. Guests will be ushered to the State Dining Room at the other end of the State Floor after dinner to be entertained by performances from Broadway stars Norm Lewis, Lea Salonga and Jessica Vosk. A state visit, including an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn and a sparkly state dinner, is the highest diplomatic honor the U.S. bestows on its closest allies. Yoon was visiting as the U.S. and South Korea mark the 70th year of an alliance that began at the end of the Korean War and committed the U.S. to help South Korea defend itself, particularly from North Korea. Approximately 28,500 U.S. troops are currently based in South Korea.
Biden's first invitation for a state visit went to France last year and President Emmanuel Macron was toasted at a black-tie dinner last December with more than 300 guests inside a heated pavilion erected on the south grounds of the White House. Before Wednesday's dinner, Jill Biden and her South Korean counterpart, Kim Keon Hee, toured a pair of exhibits of paintings by Mark Rothko at the National Gallery of Art, including one that will open to the public later this year. Lee said his mother was the first person he told about his invitation to work with the White House kitchen staff. His mother is a Korean immigrant; he was born in Brooklyn, New York. We've always felt this huge debt of gratitude to the United States of America for the opportunities that they've had, that I've been able to have," Lee said. "So to come full circle, and to give back and be able to do this was, you know, a very proud moment for me and also for my mom." Her advice? "She just said, Don't mess it up.'"
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