This rich and savory Budae Jjigae is loaded with spam, sausages, tofu, kimchi, and ramyeon noodles, all simmered in an umami-packed chili broth to pair with a bowl of warm rice. This comforting stew is delightfully simple to put together and makes for the perfect meal to share with your loved ones.
What is Budae Jjigae?
Budae Jjigae, also known as army stew, is one of Korea’s most beloved comfort foods and one that is always at the center of my cravings, especially during the colder seasons.
Although I have shared many jjigae recipes throughout the course of my blog, this Budae Jjigae recipe is truly one of my most cherished recipes of all time, which made it that special to share it with you to enjoy over the upcoming holidays.
When was Budae Jjigae invented and how?
Budae Jjigae (부대찌개), which translates to army base stew, is a fusion dish that was invented shortly after the Korean war (in the early 1950’s), when the American army was stationed in the city of Uijeongbu, which is an hour north of Seoul.
After the Korean war ended in 1953, food became extremely scarce for the locals. The only ingredients that were available after the war were food supplies left behind by U.S. military bases, which were quickly gathered by the local Koreans to supplement their food shortage.
Using all the ingredients that were accessible, they put together a comforting stew that incorporated American ingredients including spam, sausages, canned beans, and sliced cheese with kimchi, garlic, and Korean chili paste to feed and nourish their families.
Rooted in deep history, army stew remains to be one of the most iconic dishes in Korean cuisine and one that combines everything that Koreans love in one dish, with irresistible flavors to instantly warm your palate.
It also makes for the perfect hot pot dish to share around the table with your loved ones (using a portable stove), which makes it the ultimate meal to enjoy over the holidays and one that requires minimal effort to prepare.
What do I need to make Budae Jjigae?
Despite its rich flavors, Korean army stew is delightfully easy to prepare and calls for simple and budget-friendly ingredients that are readily available. Here is a list of ingredients you will need:
- Spam + sausage: American processed meats, especially spam, are the core ingredients of this stew which add incredible umami flavors to the dish. I used Spam and sausages for this recipe, but you can add bacon, pork belly, spam, ham, or hot dogs to your liking.
- Kimchi, tofu, and rice cakes: I recommend using soft tofu for this recipe, and sliced rice cakes that are commonly used for making soup (pictured above), as they will best absorb the flavors.
- If you are using frozen rice cakes, simply soak them in water for 5-10 minutes while preparing the other ingredients to thaw them before adding them to the stew.
- Onion + green onion: for the aromatics.
- Mushrooms: of any kind. Enoki, oyster or shiitake are all wonderful options.
- Instant ramyeon noodles + cheese: I recommend using a pack of Korean ramyeon noodles for this recipe, and American cheese.
- Pro tip: save the seasoning packets from the ramyeon to use as a flavor enhancer for future meals! It’s not the healthiest option but adds amazing flavors to any spicy savory soups/stews including this one.
- Chicken broth: I found that chicken broth adds amazing flavors to the stew, but you can also use anchovy stock, Korean beef bone broth, or dashi if you prefer the more traditional flavors.
- Gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes), garlic, Gochujang (Korean chili paste), soy sauce, mirin, and black pepper: to flavor the stew.
- These ingredients are to be mixed together in a small bowl, to be added to the pot along with the broth.
- If you don’t have any mirin, you can simply add a bit of sugar to the mix to balance out the spicy flavors.
And that’s it! All the ingredients you’ll need for this easy army stew recipe. The flavors of this Korean stew are incredibly versatile, so please feel free to be creative with the toppings.
What other ingredients can I add to Budae Jjigae?
Other ingredients that are commonly added include napa cabbage, fish cakes, baked beans, bean sprouts, macaroni, egg, and dangmyeon (sweet potato noodles).
To balance out the fatty meat, you can also add some vegetables to the mix that are ideal for hot pot, including spinach, bok choy, and watercress.
I hope you enjoy this easy and delicious Budae Jjigae recipe, and please leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram if you have any questions. Happy cooking everyone! x
Other Korean recipes you may like:
- Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
- Dakdoritang (Spicy Korean Chicken Stew)
- Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Glass Noodles)
- Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)
- Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)
Easy Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Stew)
- 6 oz (1/2 can) spam
- 4 oz (2 medium) sausage hot dogs, bacon, pork belly, or ham
- 1/2 cup kimchi sliced, preferrably 2+ weeks old
- 1/2 onion sliced
- 1/2 tofu soft to medium-firm, sliced into 1/2-inch thickness
- 1/2 cup rice cakes thawed if frozen
- 2 oz mushrooms enoki, oyster, or shiitake
- 2 green onion chopped, for garnish
- 1 pack instant ramyeon noodles
- 1 slice cheese
- 4 cups chicken broth anchovy stock, dashi, or water
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Assemble the spam, tofu, mushrooms, sausages, rice cakes, onion, and kimchi in a shallow pot. Add the sauce and chicken broth, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- When the stew starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the noodles and cheese, and boil for another 3-4 minutes until the noodles are cooked through.
- Garnish with green onion and serve with a bowl of steamed rice. Enjoy!