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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76 Comments:

  1. RosalinaS Indonesia joined 2/16 & has 8 comments

    I also tried to make it at home last year and my Mom and brother liked it. Not sure bcs they were too hungry or bcs I made it correctly to turned out to be yummy LOL. I added and substituted some ingredients based on what I had and liked. Thanks again Maangchi!! God bless youuu


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  2. Pixley Navarre, FL joined 1/16 & has 1 comment

    Thank you so much for this recipe. When I was stationed at Kunsan Air Base in Jeolabukdo I was introduced to this delicious dish by my Korean friends. Years Later I returned to Korea for another tour at Osan Air Base in Gyeongido and some friends on base would venture out past the town to the smaller Korean restaurants where one my co-worker and his wife would have to accompany us to translate. One day we were adventurous and decided to go out without my co-worker or his wife to this restaurant. I learned some very basic Korean and could even read Hangul but nothing would prepare me for this day. I will always remember when my friend went in and asked for the “Booty Cheeks” and Chilsung Cider! We were some silly foreigners and enjoyed every bit of the food and people of Korea. I have made this recipe for my family and they enjoyed it. You definitely hit the taste I was after. Same for your spicy chicken recipe. Reminds of Saku Saku Chicken chain in Korea.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,609 comments

      haha! Thank you for sharing the story! Now you know “Booty Cheeks” meant budae-jjigae. I think you picked up the pronunciation very well! I used to drink Chilseong cider, too.

  3. goyogoyong joined 11/15 & has 3 comments

    This recipe looks so great and I want to make it this coming weekend. I have only one question. Tofu: soft, medium, or firm?

    Kamsahamnida Maangchi.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,609 comments

      I always use medium but you could use soft or firm tofu, too. Good luck!

      • goyogoyong joined 11/15 & has 3 comments

        Thank you so much for the tofu info. I made it! My very own Budae Jjigae! Unfortunately I don’t think I did as well as you. For one I think I put the rice cakes in too long and it made the noodles stick together. It also just didn’t have the vibrant colors that you have. Oh well, try, try and try again.

        Kamsahamnida sunbae.

  4. jsp73 joined 3/15 & has 17 comments

    MUCH different from what I found in Korea. However, I LOVE boodae chiggae and I am going to try some of your personal twists to spice things up a little. Polish sausage? They use hot dogs in Korea. Aside from being greasy, I think the polish sausage would be great. I’m gonna try it. A change my Korean wife ALWAYS insists upon is to use breakfast sausage (bulk) instead of the ground beef you will often find in boodae chiggae restaurants. I need to look more deeply into your site. I want to learn how to make Kamja tang — with the ssireggi (spelling?). Finding the right meat seems challenging.

    Thank you so much, Maangchi! My wife is so pleased… I (the waygook, lol) can make delicious ddeok bboki… but she cannot. I can make excellent Yuk Gae Jang… but she cannot. She is always begging for more… thanks to you!!!!! Thank you! :)

  5. seashell12 joined 7/15 & has 1 comment

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

  6. Miss Kim78 socali joined 3/13 & has 40 comments

    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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  7. rainedaywoman joined 6/15 & has 6 comments

    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.

  8. zoeyvonne21 joined 5/15 & has 1 comment

    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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  9. The Tasty Island joined 4/15 & has 1 comment

    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!

    Aloha,
    Pomai
    The Tasty Island
    Honolulu Food Blog


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  10. mizs lilo joined 4/15 & has 2 comments

    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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  11. anitha joined 3/15 & has 2 comments

    Hi maangchi, I and my husband lived in Seoul for many years and loved the Korean food. Tasted most of them. Last year we moved to Japan. We missed Korean food deadly and there are not much Korean restaurents here in our locality. I came across this blog and started cooking Korean food at home. Today I made budae jigae and kongnamul side dish along with kimchi. It came out really well and we both enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for sharing the recipes. You inspired me to cook Korean food at home and will try other recipes soon!!!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,609 comments

      You made budae-jjigae with your homemade kimchi. Great! : )
      Can you find Korean ingredients easily in your area? I have only one grocery store submitted by reader on my website. https://www.maangchi.com/shopping/japan
      Good luck with making delicious Korean food!

      • anitha joined 3/15 & has 2 comments

        In regular stores you can get kimchi and other ingredients… But japanese kimchi taste different from Korean Kimchi.. The spice level is too low and it has more of a sweeter taste.. But I managed top adjust the spice levels using the hot pepper paste.. Maanchi can u post me the recipe of Nakji-bibimpap??? Many thanks.

  12. Stupidman2009 Johor Bahru, Malaysia joined 7/14 & has 3 comments

    Thanks for the recipe. I had tried this recipe and your ‘Fire chicken with cheese’. Its really tasty!!! Thank you, Maangchi.

  13. marikel france joined 12/14 & has 4 comments

    I cooked this receipe for my korean boyfriend and he really liked it!
    thank you Maangchi for this receipe!


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  14. edloveskoreanfood philippines joined 3/15 & has 4 comments

    hello Maangchi,
    i’m really happy i came across this site. you are amazing.

    i’m actually new in cooking so i really try to get the right ingredients when i cook. in making the stock of the army base stew, u have used anchovies. my problem is that i couldn’t find any anchovies,(why????)… i found anchovy powder though so i just bought it. now, what measurement should i use in making the stock instead of using the real fish? please help me out… ^^

  15. VApoppygirl Colonial Heights, Virginia joined 6/14 & has 2 comments

    I just made this for my family and it turned out so good :) I will definitely make this again.

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