Budae Jjigae “Army Camp Stew”

J's Budae Jjigae

Often, there are dishes that are born from necessity ingeniously created with whatever ingredients can be found and put together. Budae Jjigae is one of those dishes enjoyed today that exemplifies this type of cooking and is probably one of the earliest examples of fusion cuisine.

After the Korean War, South Korea was crippled by poverty and food was hard to come by. It was said that US troops in the area would help out the locals by giving them ingredients from their own rations which included tins of Vienna sausages and Spam. They would be put into a pot of boiling water or simple stock with a bit of kimchi, red pepper flakes or gochujang. To that, any available vegetables were added to the pot and budae jjigae was born.

Today, this dish is still popular and is served in many restaurants in South Korea. In addition to Spam and hot dogs, ingredients like baked beans and processed cheese are also very popular additions. You can watch and learn more about Budae Jjigae by watching Qiranger’s video.

This dish is a perfect recipe for students and anyone that wants a great meal for very little money. You can cook budae jjigae at the table or cook it on the stove in a saucepan or large pot.

You will need:

  • a handful of kimchi (1 cup)
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 hot dogs, scored and cut into thirds
  • *tofu, cut into ½ inch slices
  • ½ can SPAM, sliced into ½ inch pieces and halved again into triangles
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped into 3 inch lengths
  • 3 ½ oz package of shiitake, stemmed and sliced (you can also use crimini)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1-2 tablespoons gochujang* (Korean chili paste)
  • 1-2 cups of frozen tteok* (Korean ricecakes)
  • 1 portion of instant ramen noodles

Start by arranging your ingredients in the pot with the kimchi in the center and top it with the gochujang. If you’re cooking at the table, arrange the ingredients so that you have an interesting variety of colour. Place on the burner and set on high heat. Immediately add the stock and let come to a boil. Once it starts to boil, use a whisk to blend the gochujang into the broth, turn down to medium and let simmer with the cover on for 3-5 minutes.

Take off the cover, clear a space in the middle of the mixture with a spoon and add the ramen noodles. Cover again and cook for another 3 minutes. When the ramen is done, uncover and serve.

If you don’t like Spam or hot dogs, use sausage, leftover steak or pork chops, chicken or even fish. There’s no rules here, only good food.

*Gochujang, kimchi and tteok are available at your local Korean/Asian grocery.


Special Thanks to:

Taro aka RunnyRunny999
Miki of MikisPantry
Angie from TheSquishyMonster

and Steve aka Qiranger

2 Responses to Budae Jjigae “Army Camp Stew”

  1. Jay, this looks great. I might leave out the Spam to lower the fat content (sorry), although 8 do like the stuff. I have a question about the donabe pot. What size is yours (liters/ounces)? Also, we have a ceramic cooktop on our stove; could we cook in the donabe on a ceramic or even electric stove?

    • If I were to eyeball it, the diameter is about 28cm. Probably about 4 qts comfortably. I normally only use it on the gas burner or oven. When you do use it, make sure the bottom is dry. I have researched and found that some sites say you can use it with electric burners as well. Be careful with your ceramic top, as it may scratch with the clay pot.

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