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.

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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:

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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)

Directions

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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73 Comments:

  1. celes73 New York, NY joined 1/17
    Posted January 29th, 2017 at 2:32 am | # |

    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

    Thanks,
    Celeste

  2. mikiboy Manila, Philippines joined 1/17
    Posted January 9th, 2017 at 2:49 am | # |

    Hi Maanchi!

    Kamusta? I am one of your new (but really avid) fans from the Philippines. Once i found your videos online I was hooked. I started off with your steamed egg recipe then got interested in doing all of your other dishes.

    Today, I invited some of my closest friends to try out cooking a Korean meal for them. I made Budae-Jjigae, Gimbap, Algamja-jorim, and some other appetizers. We had so much fun and the food came out so well. We decided that whenever we want to have Korean food from now on, we will just have it in my house and I will cook.

    Thank you for posting all of these great recipies and sharing your yummy food. I now always let people know who i am learning from. I just ordered your book too, to help me with my Korean food journey!

    Keep cooking!

    Much love,

    Mik


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    • charliesommers Nashville, Tn. joined 4/10
      Posted February 21st, 2017 at 5:13 pm | # |

      I also am too lazy to make the stock from scratch and used hon-dashi instead. I used some old kimchi from one of your recipes and the dish was delicious. I lived in Japan for eight years back in the 1960s and even then Korean food was my favorite. Many happy evenings were spent in a small smokey restaurant where bolgogi was cooked on your table over a gas grill. Thank you for the recipes and most of all for all the wonderful memories they evoke.

      • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
        Posted March 1st, 2017 at 9:40 am | # |

        “Many happy evenings were spent in a small smokey restaurant where bulgogi was cooked on your table over a gas grill.” Thank you for sharing your story! It sounds like it’s from a movie. : )

  3. Emmanuellamelie joined 8/15
    Posted December 13th, 2016 at 3:39 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi.. i made budae jjigae for my korean night last week.. it turn out so well. I invited 2 of my korean friends and they love it. I always looking for forward to cook korean dish out from your recipe..i recommend everyone even korean friends to view your recipe… loveee u so much maangchi…thank you for ur great recipes… love from perth..


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted December 14th, 2016 at 10:50 am | # |

      Thank you so much for promoting my website to your friends! : ) Your budae-jjigae arrangement looks absolutely gorgeous and delicious! I can see you prepared Korean BBQ, too!

      • Emmanuellamelie joined 8/15
        Posted December 17th, 2016 at 1:29 am | # |

        Thank you Maangchi… your recipe is the best and easy to understand. Yaaa, Korean BBQ, budae jjigae and of crs Soju… i will post the result of cooking with recipe again nxt time… sarang hae Maangchi… love from perth


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    • Kammen91 Sydney, Australia joined 1/17
      Posted January 18th, 2017 at 11:40 pm | # |

      Hi Emmanuellamelie,
      Your budai-jjigae looks awesome! I saw your were from Perth, just wondering where you got your hot pepper flakes from? I am from Sydney about 1 hour away from the city and I can’t find pepper flakes anywhere! I can find hot pepper powder online, but not flakes.

      Thanks xo.

      • Emmanuellamelie joined 8/15
        Posted March 29th, 2017 at 7:34 am | # |

        Hey Kammen… thank you. I love korean food.. sorry i jst saw this,..you can get it from any asian groceries store… NP supermarket in cannington has. Or korean shop in city, vic prk or northbridge they all have.. the flakes sometimes run out but i always buy the biggest one since i use it quite alot… thank u…

  4. Heyytiff California joined 10/16
    Posted October 2nd, 2016 at 12:26 pm | # |

    Thank you so much for for making this recipe. My husband and i love it. The weather has because so nice to have this hot jigae.


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  5. Masschan London, UK joined 7/16
    Posted July 23rd, 2016 at 8:45 am | # |

    Thank you for posting this Maangchi. When I went to visit my friend in Seoul she took me to a place that only sells budae jjigae. I ate so much I could barely move afterwards!
    All the most tasty ingredients go into this! When I make this at home my partner always steals all the sausage so I have to put in extra for him :)


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  6. Calannie Ocala, FL joined 5/16
    Posted May 26th, 2016 at 12:16 am | # |

    Just wondering, can you make the broth with anchovy paste instead of dried anchovies? I can get anchovy paste in my local grocery store or even canned anchovy fillets …. but not dried.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 27th, 2016 at 3:53 pm | # |

      I don’t think anchovy paste will work. If you can’t find dried anchovies, use chicken or beef broth. The reason I made anchovy stock for this recipe is to make the broth tasty.

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