Food has always played a big part in Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan’s life. The youngest of eight, Hogan grew up in a small town in South Korea. She would often gather around the table with her siblings, grandparents and parents to share a meal.
“We were always eating and happy,” said Hogan, who later learned to cook from her mother and her sister. She’d often call them for recipes after she moved to the United States, and with practice, Korean cuisine has become her specialty. Hogan now cooks in bulk for major events like this month’s Lunar Year Celebration at Government House, and offers her expertise to chefs at the governor’s residence.
“They know how to make lots of Korean food. They make bulgogi, japchae and cucumber salad, hot spicy chicken. So many Korean foods,” said Hogan.
So when the 2018 Winter Olympics launched in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this month, Hogan wanted to share some of her culture with the world.
Her husband, Gov. Larry Hogan, shared two of her easy-to-make Korean recipes on Twitter: bulgogi, a marinated beef entree, and japchae, a popular Korean noodle dish.
“Most Americans love the bulgogi and the japchae, that's why I give the recipe,” she said, and “because ... maybe people [can] watch the Olympics and they can maybe learn Korean food.”
And there’s more where that came from.
In celebration of the Winter Olympics, the first lady dished on some of her favorite recipes, what she typically buys on a trip to a Korean market, her husband’s first time trying her spicy Korean food, and other things about Korean culture with The Baltimore Sun.
Favorite kimchi recipe:
“Traditional kimchi, it's really hard for you to make it. You have to have it fermenting a long time. ... But you can make it easy, [using] fresh kimchi salad style,” Yumi Hogan said. That version can be made in less than an hour, she said, with ingredients like fresh napa cabbage, Korean chili pepper, sesame seeds, fish sauce, sugar and fresh garlic. (You can find the full recipe at the end of this article.)
“Make sure it’s not too salty,” by adding a little salt at a time and testing it, advised Hogan.
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Korean market essentials:
Hogan noted that Maryland is rife with Korean markets, most notably H-Mart and Lotte Plaza Market, which has several locations around the state.
“It's hard to find Korean rice, so I go for Korean rice, and they have really good fresh fruits — cheaper than our regular market,” said Hogan.
Cabbage for kimchi is also a common item that she picks up. In late October, when preparing for the Lunar Year Celebration, , Hogan bought around 30 napa cabbages — “a year’s supply” — to make traditional kimchi for the more than 200 guests. The side dish requires the cabbage to ferment in spices at a steady temperature.
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“They have so many good restaurants.” said Hogan. “Even Baltimore — sometimes I go to Baltimore on Wednesdays [to teach at the Maryland Institute College of Art], and I stop by [at restaurants]. They’re all good.”
Favorite dish to order at a Korean restaurant:
When she’s not cooking and she chooses a Korean restaurant, Hogan’s go-to is her childhood favorite — fish.
“At the Government House, I don't cook fish,” because of the pungent smell, she said, adding that Governor Hogan isn’t a fan of the scent. So when she goes out, she often indulges in grilled mackerel.
Her first time cooking for her husband, Governor Hogan:
When Hogan began dating her future husband, she was a single mother. She invited him over to meet her daughters one day and decided to cook spicy pork bulgogi, a popular dish in her household that’s packed with heat, she said.
“He's an Irish guy, and he never [had it] before. ... He drink like five cups of water!” she said with a laugh. But now, Governor Hogan has gotten used to the spice, she said. Sometimes, he even asks for more.
Favorite Korean musician:
While her daughters and much of the world are transfixed by K-Pop (the first lady referenced the popularity of South Korean artist PSY’s “Gangnam Style” — “Everybody knows the moves,” she said), Hogan prefers classical music. Her favorite artist is the Grammy Award-winning soprano singer Sumi Jo.
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Place the thinly sliced pork in a large mixing bowl, combined with all other ingredients — except for the chopped green onions. Let the mixture marinate for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
After marinating, place large skillet on high heat and add marinated pork mixture.
Saute marinated pork mixture until thoroughly cooked and liquid is reduced.
Add green onions and cook for an additional 1 minute to slightly soften green onions.
Remove from heat and place pork on serving platter with rice.
Japchae (Serves 6 people)
1 bunch, or 1 cup of spinach (remove root tip)
½ red onion, julienne
3 carrots, julienne
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
Hanger steak, thinly sliced and trimmed fat
1 red pepper, julienne
1 pound sweet potato noodles
½ cup soy sauce, or as needed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt (to taste, about 2 teaspoons)
Wash spinach. Bring pot of water to boil. Blanche spinach for 1 minute, then cool in cold water. Squeeze and remove excess water from spinach. Chop and add salt for taste. Set aside.
Saute onion and carrots together on high heat with oil until cooked and add a dash of salt for taste. Set aside.
Cook mushroom and hanger steak together and add a dash of salt for taste. Once fully cooked, set it aside.
Saute red peppers on high heat with oil until cooked.
Bring large pot of water to boil. Once water is boiling, add sweet potato noodles. Cook as directed on label.
Wash cooked noodles under warm water briefly and dry noodles as much as possible. Cut noodles to preferred length.
In a large mixing bowl or same pot, mix the sauteed vegetables and hanger steak with the noodles. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, ground black pepper, sugar and salt. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Serve on a plate for sharing or individually.
Salad-Style Kimchi (Serves 6-8 people)
1 head napa cabbage
½ cup coarse salt
1½ tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (season to taste, very spicy)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 or 2 chopped scallions
Sea salt (season to taste in small amounts)
Cut cabbage into 4 long slices. Cut off stem and chop slices into 1-inch squares.
Rinse several times.
Mix ½ cup coarse salt evenly with cabbage. Let stand for 30-40 minutes.
Rinse excess salt and strain most of water. Put cabbage into a strainer and let sit for 30 minutes.
Put all rinsed cabbage into a big bowl. Mix Korean red pepper flakes (season to taste, very spicy), garlic, sesame seeds, sugar, fish sauce, scallions and sea salt thoroughly with cabbage.
Serve in small serving bowl as a side dish, and refrigerate leftovers.
Cucumber salad (Serves 4-6 people)
3 large English cucumbers, cut in ¼-inch thick slices
½ cup vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons chives, chopped
½ tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1-3 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes, depending on desired spiciness
Mix sliced cucumbers, vinegar, sugar and salt. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.
Add rest of the ingredients to the mixture until thoroughly combined.