What is Budae jjigae? It’s a one pot Korean stew that was created during the Korean War using ingredients found at the US Army Base. Budae means army base and jjigae is Korean stew, and the dish was invented by restaurants that had access to remnants from army rations.
An intriguing novelty at the time, the ingredients that go into this dish may seem strangely low-brow to modern-day Americans, but most older Koreans have a fond memory of when things like Spam and hotdogs were considered downright delicacies back when the country was painfully poor. The American packaged foods are mixed with Korean ingredients such as gochujang, kimchi, and ramyun and the dish is best enjoyed straight from the pot, slow boiling on a portable gas grill. Today, budae jjigae is a popular dish offered at many Korean restaurants around the world.
When cooking this one pot meal at home, there are a few key things that make the whole experience fun and easy.
Budae Jjigae Prep:
- Chop the ingredients in advance and set aside.
- Make the plenty of stock in advance and heat it up in a separate pot.
- Prepare a shallow wide pot and a portable gas grill.
Until recently, we never ate this dish at home and I was very surprised when my husband ordered it at a restaurant one day. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to make it at home albeit only once in a while as a treat and only using low sodium Spam. We do like to make our budae jjigae as healthy as possible by using up all the leftover vegetables in the fridge. Via this kitchen sink method, we discovered that vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms make wonderful additions to budae jjigae.
If you follow the 3 steps above, making Korean army stew for dinner will be a fun feast for the eyes and belly. Just arrange the ingredients, pour the broth, and wait a few minutes for the feasting to begin!
Korean Army Stew (Adapted from Hyo Sun Ro’s Korean Bapsang)
- 4-6 Cups Vegetables: Asparagus, Baechu (Napa Cabbage), Zucchini, Green Pepper, Carrots
- 1/2 Cup Kimchi
- 1/2 Can Spam
- 4-6 Oz Tofu, Sliced
- 1/2 Onion Sliced
- 4-5 Mushrooms
- 2 Scallions
- 6 Cups Anchovy Broth (or Chicken Stock)
- 1 Package Korean ramyun noodles, preboiled for 2 minutes
- 6 oz Rice Cakes
- 1 Tbsp Gochugaru
- 2 Tsp Gochujang
- 1 Tbsp Soup Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
- 1-2 Tbsp Broth or Water
- Black Pepper to Taste
Mix the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
Cut the ingredients into small pieces. Arrange all the ingredients exept the ramyun noodles in a large shallow pot.
Add the broth, and stir in the seasoning.
Cook over medium high heat until the meats are cooked through and the vegetables are softened. Add the cooked ramyun noodles.
Add more ingredients and broth as needed.