Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)
Credit: Thanks to my friend kisetsu for sharing her recipe (which I adapted to suit my cooking style) and knowledge about Korean cooking with me. This is a recipe greatly enjoyed by my family and we will be cooking it really often from now on.
Similar Recipe: Kimchi Soup (Kimchi Jiagae)
Recently, my friend kisetsu introduced me to the wonderful world of Korean cooking by making a delicious pot of Korean army base stew (budae jjigae; 부대찌개) during our gathering. For those who are not familiar with this dish, budae jjigae originated during the Korean War, where food scarcity led to Koreans cooking this stew by using leftover ingredients from the US Army such as Spam, hot dogs, cheese and baked beans. For this reason, the dish is also referred to as Johnson Tang (존슨 탕), combining the common American surname Johnson and tang (탕, 湯) a word meaning soup (Source: Wiki). Today, budae jjigae is a popular Korean dish with lots of seasonal ingredients such as mushrooms, kimchi, tofu and minced beef. What I love about this delicious stew is that the preparation is really easy (mostly involving cutting and slicing the ingredients). It makes a perfect stew for a lazy stay-at-home weekend as the pot can feed two or more persons for an entire day. We placed a portable gas cooker on the table and let the stew bubble away gently as we eat. For the evening meal, we just top up with more ingredients and soup broth, and bring the stew to a simmer for 10 minutes before eating.
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Korean Army Base Stew Recipe (Step-by-Step Photos)
Get the printable recipe on page 2.
This recipe serves 2-4 but feel free to add up the ingredients accordingly as the recipe is really flexible. For more information about the Korean ingredients, check out page three of the recipe.
Make the soup paste by combining 2 tbsp gochujang (chilli paste), 1/2 tbsp gochugaru (hot chilli pepper powder), 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp garlic powder (or 1/2 tbsp minced garlic) and 1 tbsp rice cooking wine (optional). Add more gochugaru if you like a spicier stew.
In a soup pot, bring 750ml of chicken or anchovy stock to a boil and dissolve the soup paste in it. Season to taste with fish sauce (I added 1/2 tbsp) and more red pepper powder as necessary. If you don’t have fish sauce, substitute with salt (to taste) but personally I feel that fish sauce is better. Turn off the stove and set aside.
In a shallow casserole, arrange the above ingredients (with the addition of 100 grams of duk guk (flat oval rice cakes), 1 cup of cut kimchi and a small can of baked beans) in a platter as shown in the photo above.
When ready to serve, add prepared soup base to the casserole. Bring the soup to a simmer and gently break the minced beef to smaller pieces with a spatula. Cover with lid and simmer the stew for about 10 minutes to cook all the ingredients. After 10 minutes, add cheese slices on top and cook one packet of ramyeon (instant noodles) without the seasoning powder.
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