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. bbimvip Arizona, USA joined 12/14 & has 2 comments

    Hello Maangchi, is it possible to substitute the kelp with something else?

  2. Rint Marini Germany joined 12/14 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi! :)
    In my area I can’t find any American Spam. Can I use other ingredient? And also I can’t eat any product that contains pork.
    Thanks! :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      Then forget about spam and use more sausage made with beef or chicken. Good luck!

    • Sarge Deutschland joined 4/12 & has 1 comment

      Even though it is quite late :),

      “Tulip Frühstücksfleisch” is at least an good subsitution for “Spam”, the same company produces spam for britain.

      You can also get real “spam” in african or asian shops around germany. At least in the “Ruhrgebiet” i can confirm that. Hope i could help

      And thx Maangchi for feeding me and my wife for at least 5 years :) great work and keep it up !

  3. salloom Los Angeles joined 2/14 & has 11 comments

    Since my last post here on this recipe, I have cooked the Army Base Stew 9 times. I love it because it is easy to make and hassle free to prepare. Not always I have included all the ingredients. That depended on what I had handy. Please remember I am a one person army. None the less, the stew was always delicious and it filled the stomach. Yummy to my Tummy!!!

    Today (it stopped raining after three days), I ventured to the Galleria Market in Korea Town. I stocked up on Ramyeons. They had discount on several brands and I decided to fill the shopping cart. I also bought several imported Korean spam cans that were on sale. For today, the Galleria Market was featuring samples of their various Ramyeons. I picked up spicy, seafood flavored, beef flavored, and veggie flavored. After sampling the featured mandus, I also picked up several frozen bags of different mandu flavors that were on sale. (Since I don’t speak Korean, I required assistance from the lovely, mostly female, staff in selecting items from the shelves.)

    Once again, THANK YOU, for this lovely recipe…

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      You have made this 9 times so far ever since I posted this recipe! Amazing! : )
      Thank you for sharing your story about Korean ingredient shopping. I can picture your picking up some Korean ingredients at the Korean store. You are a queen of budae-jjigae! : )

  4. hannaone Spokane joined 12/14 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    Your recipe for Budae Jjigae looks good. It’s close to what I had in Korea in 1978 except that it was plain Oscar Meyer hot dogs instead of Polish Sausage. Soju does go well with it.

  5. sovatheavy France joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

    I love all korean foods

  6. rechellegary United Kingdom joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

    I will try this on coming weekend as its by doll birthday,Will definitely share how it turned out,Thanks for lovely pictures and the recipe

  7. Lome France joined 11/14 & has 2 comments

    I searched for kombu or dashima but found neither… Can I use another seaweed?

  8. ayenora San Francisco Bay Area joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    This recipe looks so good! I’ll be trying it out on Thursday with some family and friends, thanks so much for the inspiration Maangchi!
    Also, what would you recommend to drink with this? Any kind of alcohol, soft drinks, teas? :)

  9. n4rit4 Montclair, NJ joined 11/12 & has 10 comments

    Maangchi Eonni,

    Would the taste change if I change of the pork product with beef/turkey products??? Since it’s not allowed for us to eat pork. And what would you recommend to substitute it?

  10. salloom Los Angeles joined 2/14 & has 11 comments

    Dear Maangchi,

    Today I went to Korea Town to shop for the “instant ramyeon”. One of the helpers took me to an aisle with nothing but shelves of noodles. I was at loss and confused as to which one I should pick. Needles to say, I walked away empty handed as I was thoroughly confused.

    Can you please shed some more light on the “instant ramyeon”? Would it be possible to post a picture of the instant ramyeon box/pack? This way I can print it and take it with me to show the helper in the store? I am very sorry to seem like I am so ignorant.

    Thank you.

    • stonefly Olympia WA joined 11/11 & has 61 comments


      There are lots of kinds of ramyeon (ramen) and no wrong choices. Top Ramen and Smack Ramen are common brands, but choose any kind of ramen/ramyeon. I would avoid those that come in their own bowls, just because there is no need to waste the bowl.

      Try one and try the dish. It is delicious!!!

      Tom aka Stonefly

      • salloom Los Angeles joined 2/14 & has 11 comments

        Today I revisited Korea Town and took your recommendation. I bought a box of the Top Ramen brand. And for good measure, I was able to find Korean SPAM. Yes, imported Korean SPAM !!! I made this recipe for dinner as I had the grandchildren over. Nothing left and wished I made some more.

        While there, I also bought 3 cans of Pike fish. I will be using Maangchi’s recipe to make them.

        Finally, if someone can tell me where can I order the square measuring spoons that Maangchi uses in her videos? I stopped at two Kitchen Supply stores and none had them. Help is always appreciated.

        • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

          Thank you for sharing the story about your success! I can imagine how happy you were when your grandchildren quickly emptied the budae jjigae you made!
          Don’t worry about the measuring spoons. I got them from William Sonoma years ago and they don’t make the model anymore. Mine are almost worn out. I bought a new set of measuring spoons recently. You can use any US standard measuring spoons sold at any kitchenware store in USA.

  11. gop chang USA joined 10/14 & has 2 comments

    Maangchi, thank you you for this recipe. What I find interesting is that Spam is extremely popular on the peninsula and remains a very popular gift for Chuseok, so much so that Spam is produced in Korea in a version that is more suited flavor-wise to the Korea palate. I believe that to many of the “older generation”, and especially those that grew up around the concentrations of the U.S Army bases, the taste of spam..along with the cheese and hot dogs, reminds them of the first breath of hope and freedom that they felt after the horrible period of the Korean War. With the inclusion of what are very western products (Spam, Hot Dogs, Beans) you could call 부대찌개 the original east-west fusion dish!!

  12. jihye0214 San Francisco Bay Area joined 9/14 & has 1 comment

    Thank you so much for 부대찌개 recipe. I was the one who requested for this dish and I’m SUPER excited to have this for tonight!
    I usually made this dish from resturant’s recipe in Korea but it was too complicative to make it so. You make my life so much easier !

  13. Zulumom Concord, CA joined 9/13 & has 35 comments

    Wow…I don’t think I’ve ever drooled this much watching a cooking video. This is the king of all Budae-Jjigae!!! Can’t wait to try this recipe, Maangchi! I don’t like Spam either, but maybe I’ll actually buy one for this one!!! xoxo

  14. DubDiva United States joined 11/11 & has 7 comments

    We have a family tradition in our house where we make whatever someone wants for dinner on their birthday.

    I think I’ve found my birthday dinner this year! The family is slightly scared of the combination of tofu and beans, but they’re willing to give it a go!

    One of the coolest things about this dish is the use of American ingredients. I should be able to find everything really, really easily.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Laifa Haren, The Netherlands joined 12/13 & has 13 comments

    Love it! We will be eating this tonight!!

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