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. David A Central NY joined 10/20 & has 1 comment

    This is seriously favorite Go-To dishes when we go out for good Korean food. Thank you SO much for this recipe. I’ve been making your kimchi for quite a while now and taught a few friends your recipe. Amazing.

  2. cloverleaf Philippines joined 8/19 & has 1 comment

    Hi Ms. Maangchi!

    I wanted to badly try this recipe but there are no available dried anchovy in my place. Instead I have found in a korean grocery store that they sell an ready made anchovy stock power, can I use this instead? and if yes at what amount?

  3. rosielee2040 houston tx joined 6/19 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!! Thank you so much for your blog and your recipes and your videos! I moved to America after graduating from high school in Korea and it’s been about 5 years since I’ve been back properly, but your videos made me feel less homesick and made it a lot easier for me to share my culture with my boyfriend! He loves Korean junk food and now that I’m living on my own and have a kitchen I can share actual food with him, and not instant ramen or Choco Pie, lol… we’re doing our first cooking date today and I can’t wait to share more and more of our food with him! We’re starting with 부대찌개 because it uses the flat pot and that’s the only real pot I have (we’re splitting the stock across a couple saucepans) so please wish us luck!

  4. BeelzeBabe Finland joined 9/18 & has 9 comments

    I made this with some extra mushrooms and with some blanched nettles thrown in at the end – thank you for a lovely, easy-to-follow recipe! Autumn’s turning very cold where I live, and this stew was perfect after getting in from a run out in the freezing evening. This really drove out the cold! :)

  5. wlfong Athens, Ohio joined 1/17 & has 1 comment

    Your recipe is so easy to follow. I have never tried budae jjigae in Korean restaurants before but I am curious to taste it. Love it.

    See full size image

  6. celes73 New York, NY joined 1/17 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi,

    Thank you so much for this recipe, it is absolutely delicious! I am being a little bit lazy and use dashi stock instead (I will cook my soup next time, too hungry…). I love the idea of adding cheese because it thicken the soup and add a milk flavor to it.

    I will keep watching all your video! :D


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