Army Base Stew

Budae-jjigae 부대찌개

Hello everybody! Today I’m showing you the recipe for a much-requested dish: Budae-jjigae a.k.a “Army Base Stew.” It’s a spicy, savory, Korean-American fusion dish made from an umami-rich broth, Korean hot pepper paste, flakes, kimchi, and American Spam, beans, and sausage.

This dish was invented after the Korean war (1950-1953) when the American army was stationed in the city of Uijeongbu, near Seoul. They had their own food on the base, things like canned beans, meat, Spam, ham, and sausages. This food was totally new to Koreans. Eventually these ingredients made their way into surrounding area of the base and some creative Koreans made stew from them. They boiled spam, ham, sausages, and baked beans with kimchi, garlic, and hot pepper paste and flakes, creating a Korean-style stew with American ingredients.

I have to admit that the idea of this stew never appealed to me, so I never really tried it. I’m not a fan of Spam, for one. And mixing all these ingredients together and boiling them didn’t sound delicious at all.

But over the years of running my website so many of my readers requested this dish that I reconsidered. I tried it in several different places in Korea and New York and was really surprised by how popular it was. And I see why people love it: the spicy, savory stew goes really well with the salty, soft American Spam. I eventually changed my mind about budae-jjigae because of my readers!

Even though it looks like a simple dish to prepare – just put everything in the pot – I learned that it’s not that simple. The anchovy-kelp stock, for one, is irreplaceable and makes it irresistible. Also, everything should be mostly cooked before you start making the stew. The pork belly, for example, should be cooked in the stock for 10 minutes so you don’t have to worry if it’s done or not.

And a hot, bubbling stew is definitely much better than a lukewarm one. Make sure it’s hot and bogeul-bogeul bubbling! Once the ramyeon noodles soften, you can start eating (or even take a few bites of sausage before)!

There are a lot of ingredients to this dish, but some are optional: tofu, baked beans, rice cake, cheese, and radish sprouts.

Let me know how you enjoy this recipe! Happy eating!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the stock:

For the seasoning paste:

For stew:

  • ½ pound pork belly (or pork shoulder), cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 ounces of sweet potato starch noodles, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1 cup worth cabbage, cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ of a medium onion, sliced
  • 2 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup fermented kimchi, chopped
  • 4 ounces of Polish sausage, sliced
  • 4 ounces of  spam, sliced thinly
  • ½ of packaged instant ramyeon
  • 1 cup worth radish sprouts (or spinach, watercress, arugula)
  • ½ cup worth tofu, sliced (Optional)
  • ¼ cup canned baked beans (Optional)
  • 12-16 sliced rice cakes (Optional)
  • 1 slice of American cheese (Optional)
    dangmyeonBudae jjigae (Army Base Stew: 부대찌개)Budae jjigae (Army Base Stew: 부대찌개)


Prepare stock:

  1. Combine the water, anchovies, mushrooms, and kelp in a large pot. Cover and cook for 25 minutes over medium high heat. Add the pork and cook for another 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat. Take out the anchovies, kelp and mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms into bite size pieces.
  3. Strain the mixture of the stock and the pork into a large bowl. Put the pork into a small bowl. You will get about 6 cups of stock. Stir in the salt until dissolved.

Make seasoning paste:

  1. Combine the seasoning paste ingredients – garlic, hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, sugar, and water in a bowl. Mix well.

Arrange the ingredients in a shallow pot (10 to 12 inch):

  1. Put the cabbage, onion, green onion, pork, and the mushrooms, on the bottom of the pot.
  2. Add the kimchi, and the seasoning paste over top.
  3. Add the spam, sausage, rice cake, tofu, baked beans, and cheese.
  4. Add the ramyeon and the sweet potato starch noodles.
  5. Put radish sprouts on top and add 3 cups of stock.
    Budae jjigae (Army Base Stew: 부대찌개)Army base stew (Budaejjigae: 부대찌개)Budae jjigae (Army Base Stew: 부대찌개)

Cook and serve:

  1. Cook over medium high heat. Korean style is to cook at the table with a portable burner. Friends and family will be sitting around the pot, talking and laughing, and maybe drinking. You can take a bit of cooked sausage or the meat with your chopsticks as you wait for the broth to boil and the noodles to soften. If you don’t have a tabletop burner, you can cook it on the stove away from the table.
  2. When it starts boiling about 10 minutes later, stir and turn the ingredients over with tongs to cook evenly.
    Budae jjigae (Army Base Stew: 부대찌개)
  3. Serve right after the noodles and ramyeon have softened. Transfer some cooked stew to individual bowls and serve. Add more stock as the broth boils down.


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  1. seashell12 My profile page joined 7/15
    Posted July 22nd, 2015 at 9:44 am | # |

    my husband and I made this for dinner the other night loved it even kids liked it. Thank you :)

  2. Miss Kim78 socali My profile page joined 3/13
    Posted June 24th, 2015 at 2:08 am | # |

    I LOVE budaejjigae. I am surprised that you haven’t tried it until recently. I can’t imagine having soju without budaejjigae. In honor of the upcoming anniversary of the 6-25 (Korean War), I shared on a post how the war has shaped the lives of our families and of course, how it gave birth to one of the most delicious dishes, the budaejjigae. http://www.behgopa.com/2015/06/6-25-yuk-yi-o-aka-korean-war-ramblings.html

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    • ddnorman Southern NH, USA My profile page I'm a fan! joined 9/13
      Posted June 24th, 2015 at 6:34 pm | # |

      Hi Miss Kim!

      Long time no see! hope you are doing well! Your budae jjigae looks delicious!


  3. rainedaywoman My profile page joined 6/15
    Posted June 14th, 2015 at 10:50 pm | # |

    I originally planned to make Tteokbokki for dinner but decided to try this recipe instead. I am so glad I did, it is wonderful. Even my children loved it.

  4. zoeyvonne21 My profile page joined 5/15
    Posted May 10th, 2015 at 10:24 pm | # |

    Just made this for my fiance and he loves it. Let me first say that your the best and keep on making more korean recipe videos. I love watching them. Cause of you now i love cooking more than before and try new things. I just join your website, and happy to be part of your fan page. :)

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  5. The Tasty Island My profile page joined 4/15
    Posted April 24th, 2015 at 7:08 pm | # |

    Aloha Maangchi,

    I LOVE this “Army Base Stew” recipe video! Wow, that is a crazy amount of inredients! Reason I found this, is here in Hawaii we have what’s called the Waikiki SPAM JAM happening next weekend. And SPAM introduced a new flavor to the Hawaii market. So one thing led to another on my Tasty Island Food Blog, and here I found your awesome recipe for “Army Base Stew”! You are so cute how you present everything, while being very articulate. I’m definitely going to try make this complex Korean-American stew myself, thanks to you!

    You rock,. Maangchi!

    The Tasty Island
    Honolulu Food Blog

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  6. mizs lilo My profile page joined 4/15
    Posted April 11th, 2015 at 10:08 am | # |

    Dear maangchi,
    I bought this gochujang at hypermarket, could u please list down the ingredients in english bcoz i am muslim & i need to verify the ingredients contain halal ingredients….thank you ^_^

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    • sanne Munich My profile page joined 8/14
      Posted April 11th, 2015 at 4:16 pm | # |

      Hi mizs lilo,

      It’s vegan, but contains a little bit of alcohol due to fermentation (contains Yeast Powder). But so does bread, too. And juice.

      Just feed the product-code to a search-engine: 8801052435015 ingredients

      Bye, Sanne.

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