Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)

Budae Jigae (Korean Army Stew)

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.

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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.

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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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soup paste Make the soup paste by combining gochujang (chilli paste), gochugaru (hot chilli pepper powder; add more for a spicier stew), sesame oil, garlic powder and rice wine.
Army stew soup base In a soup pot, bring chicken or anchovy stock to a boil and dissolve the soup paste in it. Season to taste, turn off the stove and set aside.
beef Marinade minced beef with gochujiang, sesame oil and white pepper powder.
hotdogs Slice 3 hot dogs to smaller sections. I made a few slits on each slice so that they will curl beautifully and absorb the stew flavours when cooked.
Spam Slice half can spam (luncheon meat) to uniform thickness.
Leeks, Onions, Mushrooms Slice leek to 1 cm width. Roughly chop onion and slice mushrooms thinly.
dangmyeon Soak 30 grams dangmyeon (sweet potato noodles) in water until softened.
Before Cooking (Army Stew) In a shallow casserole, arrange the above ingredients (with the addition of duk guk (flat oval rice cakes), kimchi, tofu and baked beans) in a platter.
Budae Jigae (Korean Army Stew) 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.
Before Cooking (Army Stew)

Arranging all the ingredients in a platter before adding the soup base.

See Also: List of Korean Ingredients

Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) Recipe

Traditionally, Budae Jjigae consists of western ingredients such as spam, hot dogs, cheese and baked beans, along with seasonal and fresh ingredients. Feel free to adapt this recipe with your favourite vegetables.

Serves: 2-4

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 750 ml chicken or anchovy stock
  • fish sauce (or salt) to taste
  • 100 grams minced beef marinated with 1 tbsp gochujiang, 1 tsp sesame oil and white pepper
  • 3 hot dogs (sausages/frankfurters) sliced to smaller sections
  • 1/2 can spam (luncheon meat)
  • 1/2 leek sliced to 1 cm length
  • 1/2 onion roughly chopped
  • 100 grams button mushrooms sliced thinly
  • 30 grams dangmyeon (sweet potato noodles) soaked in water until softened
  • 100 grams duk guk (flat oval rice cakes)
  • 1 cup cut kimchi
  • 1 x 200 grams baked beans
  • cheese slices
  • 1 packet ramyeon (instant noodles)
  • chilli slices and spring onions garnishing

Soup Base (A) (combine in a small bowl)

  • 2 tbsp gochujang (chilli paste)
  • 1/2 tbsp gochugaru (hot chilli pepper powder)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder or use 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp rice wine optional

Directions

  1. In a soup pot, bring chicken or anchovy stock to a boil and dissolve (A) in it. Season to taste with fish sauce (or salt) and more gochugaru, if needed. Turn off the stove.
  2. In a shallow casserole, arrange all the ingredients in a platter.
  3. 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.
  4. After 10 minutes, add cheese slices on top and cook one packet of ramyeon (without the seasoning). Garnish with chilli and spring onions.

Noob Cook Tip:
Different brands of soup stock, gochujang and gochugaru have different level of saltiness and heat respectively, so do season the soup stock to taste accordingly.