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Budae jjigae

Back in my college days, my friends and I would find ourselves at some Korean bar almost every weekend (and some weekdays). The alcohol was limited to only soju but the prices were cheap and the food always hit the spot. Now that I have grown up a bit, we like to think of ourselves a little classier and visit lounges with whisky and scotch on their menus. It was only recently when I was reminded of how good Korean bar food is and how cheap the drinks are. One of the classic dishes my friends and I almost always get is budae jjigae, also known as Korean army base stew. It’s a hodgepodge of ingredients thrown in together from spam to ramen noodles to kimchi to various vegetables and it’s oh so delicious!

budae jjigae

budae jjigae

Budae jjigae
Serves 4
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Total Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
300 calories
37 g
29 g
9 g
18 g
3 g
555 g
968 g
3 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 300
Calories from Fat 82
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 29mg
Sodium 968mg
Total Carbohydrates 37g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 3g
Protein 18g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Dashi broth
  1. 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  2. 1 3x3 inch dried kelp piece
  3. 1/2 onion, peeled, left whole
  4. 2 garlic cloves, whole
  5. 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  6. 5 dried anchovies, guts removed
  7. 6 cups water
  1. 1/2 onion, sliced
  2. 1 carrot, sliced on a bias
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 can spam, sliced
  5. 4 ounces pork belly, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  6. 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  7. 4 ounces tofu, sliced
  8. 1 cup rice cakes, fresh
  9. 1 package instant ramen noodles
Seasoning spice
  1. 2 tbsp Korean red chili powder (gochugaru)
  2. 1 tbsp Korean red chili paste (gochujang)
  3. 1 tbsp soy sauce
  4. 1 tbsp rice wine
  1. Prepare dashi broth. Combine all ingredients from dried mushrooms to water in a medium stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain stock, discarding ingredients.
  2. Heat wide pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and saute onion, carrot and garlic. Cook until onions have softened, about 3-4 minutes. Arrange the spam, pork belly, kimchi, tofu and rice cakes in the pot. Pour in the dashi broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Mix together the seasoning spice from the red chili powder to the rice wine. Add to the soup and mix together. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the ramen noodles and cook until done, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
Cherry on my Sundae

**Helpful tips and common mistakes

Budae jjigae is a poor man’s soup. People created the dish using leftover ingredients from the army facilities, hence the name Korean army base stew. Today, it’s served as a popular dish at Korean bars and restaurants. There are many different variations, some including rice cakes, others with hot dogs and some even with cheese, but this recipe is a combination of my favorite ingredients.

Create a flavorful broth as the base for the stew. Dashi is a Japanese stock that is commonly used in Korean soups and stews. If you can’t find all of the ingredients, you can also purchase dashi stock powder. The powder is similar to chicken bouillon; simply add water and you’re good to go.

Most people let the ingredients simmer in the broth but I like to saute the onions, carrots and garlic to add more flavor to the stew.

If fresh rice cakes aren’t available, purchase the frozen package. Rice cake ovalettes are most often used for stews but I like to use the oblong shape as well. Soak the frozen rice cakes in room temperature water for 30 minutes before cooking. 

Once the ingredients are in the dashi, make it spicy with the seasoning mixture of chili paste, soy sauce, chili flakes and rice wine. Add more or less of the chili paste and flakes depending on how spicy you want your stew.

budae jjigae

Add the ramen noodles last since they cook quickly.

budae jjigae

Serve in the same pot the budae jjigae was prepared in and let the diners scoop out the soup themselves. They can pick and choose which fillings they prefer; that’s half the fun! Great for drinking, the day after drinking, or just a sober night of fun.

budae jjigae




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Comments: 4

  1. Mary Frances 08/12/2014 at 9:32 pm Reply

    This looks amazing! So many flavors, and perfect for sharing with friends!

    • cma0425 08/13/2014 at 1:06 am Reply

      That’s the idea, to share with your friends!

  2. Kathleen 08/13/2014 at 10:52 pm Reply

    This is great! I love ‘catch-all’ dishes! I always have so many leftovers and/or scraps and I hate to let them go to waste. This dish looks like the perfect thing to make!

    • cma0425 08/13/2014 at 11:09 pm Reply

      It is definitely a good chance to use all leftovers and still produce a great meal!

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