This article was originally published for Curious Cuisiniere.
When the weather gets cold and chilly, all I want to eat is something steamy and comforting. Chinese hot pot and hot soup noodles, such as Vietnamese beef pho are my favourites.
But lately, I’ve delved more into Korean food, and discovered that there’s a dish that epitomizes hot pot and noodles into one.
Budae Jiggae. Literally translated, it means “army base stew” in Korean.
HISTORY OF BUDAE JIGGAE
Food was scarce in South Korean after the Korean War. Buddae Jiggae was created by using the food supplies left over from the war.
The people who lived around US Army bases collected surplus food such as processed meats, such as SPAM and hotdogs and canned food such as baked beans.
It is also known as “Jonseun Tang” (“Johnson Soup”) as the President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson was purported to have enjoyed the stew on a visit to South Korea.
WHAT IS IN BUDAE JIGGAE?
Budae Jiggae is a thick, spicy, hearty stew flavoured with anchovy broth and gochujang. It is a meat-centric dish and usually includes:
- SPAM (processed ham)
- hotdogs (Vienna sausages)
- ground beef
- canned beans
- instant noodles
- tteok (rice cakes)
- American processed cheese
- whatever vegetables are in season
KOREAN INGREDIENTS IN BUDAE JIGGAE
Gochujang is a Korean spicy red pepper paste that is found in Korean/Asian supermarkets. If you’re not able to find gochujang, you can try using a mixture of 1 T miso paste and 2 T sriracha chili sauce with 1 tsp of sugar.
Gochugaru is known as Korean red pepper flakes. They are more finely ground than conventional red pepper flakes and milder in spiciness. However, it has a slightly sweet and smoky flavour.
Gochugaru is commonly used in kimchi and in Korean Bibimbap. If you don’t have access to gochugaru, you can use regular red pepper flakes, but use less. You won’t get that sweet and smoky flavour found in the Korean version, but it will give you that slight spicy kick.
Tteok are Korean rice cakes that can come in 2 different forms: thinly sliced, and logs. For this stew, the sliced ones are easier to work with since they will cook up quickly. Korean rice cakes can be found in Asian supermarkets, sometimes in the frozen section.
HOW TO PREPARE BUDAE JIGGAE
You’ll need a large shallow pot to prepare budae jiggae. Typically, it is served at the table on a hot plate burner to keep the stew piping hot (similar to Chinese hotpot).
However, if you don’t have a hot plate burner, you can still make this over the stove.
Most of the work in preparing this dish is in opening the cans! It’s such a simple dish!
Then, place the ingredients into the shallow pot with the anchovy and gochujang broth.
The stew simmers gently over the heat. It’s a slow-paced meal, where family gather together at the table to enjoy the dish piping hot.
MAKE IT TO YOUR LIKING
I’ll be the first to admit, this dish is indulgent, with its high concentration of processed meat and sodium.
However, I have been able to replace the processed meats with hotpot beef before, if you’re opting for a more “healthier” alternative.
But for this recipe, I’ve kept it a little more authentic with the instant noodles and SPAM, which are really the main characteristics of this Korean stew.
(Note: you’ll notice that I didn’t use any processed cheese in my recipe… this is since my family doesn’t like the taste of it, but if you like it, by all means, go for it).
The great thing about budae jiggae is that you can optimize the stew to your liking.
If you don’t like tofu, leave it out. If you’ve got canned kidney beans, add them in.
Love eggs? Add them in. Got some frozen dumplings? Why not add them in? That’s the beauty of cooking and creating dishes.
OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
And if you enjoy Korean flavours, be sure to check out these recipes:
Let me know if you try this comforting, hearty and delicious soul-warming recipe — tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Budae Jiggae (Korean Army Stew)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 1 Tbsp anchovy paste
- 1 Tbsp gochujang paste Korean red pepper paste
- 2 Tbsp gochugaru Korean red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp rice wine
- 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp granulated cane sugar
- 3 C vegetable broth
- 1 can SPAM sliced
- 1 can Vienna sausages or cocktail wieners, sliced on the diagonal
- 1 pkg enoki mushrooms stems removed and gently rinsed
- ½ package firm tofu sliced
- ¼ C kimchi
- ¼ C tteok Korean rice cakes, rinsed
- 1 slice American processed cheese optional
- 1 egg
- 1 pkg instant noodles noodles only
- 2 Tbsp green onions sliced
Make the soup base:
- In a large bowl, mix together soup base ingredients. Add in the vegetable broth and mix together.
Assemble the budae jiggae:
- In a large shallow pot, place the ingredients except for the instant noodles and egg. Pour the soup base over top of the ingredients.
- Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over medium heat (on the stove or a hot plate burner) until the stew begins to simmer, about 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add in the instant noodles and raw egg. Continue to simmer until the noodles and egg are cooked.
- Garnish with green onions and serve immediately. You can eat as is or serve with steamed rice and banchan (Korean side dishes).