Budae Jjigae Army Stew. A delicious hearty, savory, spicy stew packed with instant noodles, cabbage, mushrooms, onions, spam, tofu simmered in a flavorful broth! A popular Korean food that you can make in 30 minutes! My version is on the mild side.
What is Budae Jjigae?
It's a savory spicy Korean stew made instant noodles, processed meat, tofu, mushrooms, canned baked beans, cabbage, kimchi, spicy rice cakes, onions and American cheese simmered in a broth. This Korean dish is served at Korean restaurants or in many Korean households. The bubbling stew is prepared in a shallow pot and is cooked over a portable burner at the dinner table. It's one of the most iconic comfort foods in Korean cuisine. The stew is usually served over hot white rice in individual bowls. It's the perfect Korean meal if you have company!
The Korean term "Budae Jjigae" means "Army Stew" in English translation. It's a popular hot pot stew that originates from the city of Uijeongbu, in South Korea, during the Korean War in the early 1950s. The American soldiers at the American military bases brought along many shelf stable foods from the United States, like canned Spam and beans. This created a surplus of food at the U.S. army bases. The Korean soldiers used these American ingredients in combination with their own Korean ingredients to create this dish. That's how the name "Korean Army Base Stew" was derived.
Please scroll down to below recipe card for exact measurements.
Note: Most Asian supermarkets will carry these ingredients. You may find some at your select grocery store or online, like on Amazon.
- Instant ramen noodles: any ramen noodles that you enjoy. For this stew, I prefer thicker instant noodles by the brand Jin Ramen or Shin Ramen.
- Spam: I highly recommend good old American spam for this delicious stew but feel free to substitute with hot dogs, ham, bacon, breakfast sausage or pork belly
- Tofu: feel free to use soft to firm tofu for this stew.
- Napa or regular cabbage: these greens work well as they have a mild flavor to offer to the soup base without overpowering it.
- Mushrooms: you can use enoki mushrooms, king oyster or button mushrooms
- Maple flavored baked beans: a can of sweet maple baked beans helps to balance the saltiness of this dish and tames the spice.
- Stock: feel free to use anchovy stock if you have this, chicken stock, or vegetable stock for the spicy broth
- Rice cakes: feel free to use the kind that look like medallions or the kind that look like little tubes.
- American Cheese: either slices of cheddar or white cheese will work. It's iconic to this Korean Army Stew and also gives our stew a creamy flavor.
- Green onion or spring onions
- Kimchi: use well fermented kimchi or old kimchi for the best budae jjigae! Older kimchi has a tangier, flavorful taste versus fresh kimchi.
Army Base Stew Sauce:
- Sesame oil
- Gochujang: the mild type. This is a Korean red chili paste that is sweet, spicy and smoky in taste. It's commonly used in many Korean dishes as a seasoning paste.
- Regular soy sauce: aka all-purpose soy sauce. The label will simply say "soy sauce". This is different from dark soy sauce, which is darker in color and thicker in viscosity. You may also substitute with light soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce.
- Sugar: white granulated sugar, brown sugar, or cane sugar will work. You can even substitute with honey or maple syrup if you wish.
How to make Budae jjigae
Place Stew Ingredients in Pan
Place prepared onion, green onion, cabbage, mushrooms, spam, tofu, maple baked beans, kimchi and rice cakes into a medium saucepan, about 3 inches deep and 12 inches wide.
Add Stock & Sauce
Pour stock into the pan.
Next in a small bowl, whisk together your sauce ingredients until well combined. Pour the sauce into the pan.
Bring Stew to Boil
Then place the pan over your stovetop or portable gas burner and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Let the ingredients cook and stew in the stock and sauce, stirring every now and then for 10 minutes. Do not cover.
Add Instant Ramen & Cheese
Place ramen noodles on top of the stew with a slice of cheese over the top. Let the noodles boil for 2 minutes or until Al Dente texture. You may need to boil two ramen cakes at a time depending on how large your pan is. Turn the heat down to low. Feel free to remove the noodles and transfer them to a separate bowl so they don't get soggy.
Enjoy your stew as is or with over steamed rice.
Storage & Reheating
Budae jjigae is best consumed within 24 hours or the noodles go soggy. If you have leftovers, you can store them in airtight container and they will last up to 2-3 days, but I would recommend removing any leftover noodles. To reheat, microwave for 2-3 minutes or reheat on the stovetop in a pan.
- Fresh vegetables make this stew so much more delicious.
- Pre-whisk your sauce prior to adding it to the pan for an even taste distribution.
- Pre-arrange all your ingredients for budae jjigae in the wide deep pan keeping the ingredients unmixed and separated. This is for aesthetic if you want to wow your guests.
- Add your ramen last and boil for 2-3 minutes after the stew has boiled and your ingredients are cooked. This keeps the ramen chewy and springy so that you can enjoy it with the rest of your ingredients.
- Do not skipped the canned beans, they really offer a creamy depth to the broth. This also tones down the gochujang in the stew making this a non spicy army base stew.
What do you eat Budae Jjigae with?
Budae Jjigae is traditionally eaten with steamed rice, but you can also eat it with ramen as this recipe instructions along with any Korean banchans or side dishes that you desire.
Other Korean recipes you may like!
Mild Budae Jjigae Army Stew
- 4 packs instant ramen noodles
- 1 can Spam sliced into 1 cm thick pieces (or sub with bacon, hot dogs, or ham)
- 0.7 lbs tofu sliced into 1 cm thick pieces (soft to firm tofu)
- 5 cups napa cabbage or regular cabbage chopped
- 3-4 cups mushrooms such as enoki mushrooms, king oyster or button mushrooms, chopped
- 1 can baked beans maple flavoured
- ⅓ cup kimchi
- 1 onion sliced thinly
- 1 cup Korean rice cakes
- 4 cups stock chicken stock, anchovy stock or vegetable stock will work
- 2 slices cheese cheddar or white
- 1 green onion sliced
Army Base Stew Sauce:
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon gochujang very mild type (if you want this spicier, add an additional 1 tbsp)
- 2 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon garlic minced
- Place prepared spam, tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, baked beans, kimchi, onion, rice cakes into a large, about 3 inches deep and 12 inches wide.
- Pour stock into the pan.
- Next in a small bowl, whisk together your Sauce ingredients as listed above until well combined. Pour the sauce into the pan.
- Place the pan over your stovetop or portable gas burner and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Let the ingredients cook and stew in the stock and sauce, stirring every now and then for 10 minutes. Do not cover.
- Place ramen noodles on top of the stew with a slice of cheese over the top. Let the noodles boil for 2 minutes or until Al Dente texture. You may need to boil two ramen cakes at a time depending on how large your pan is. Turn the heat down to low. Feel free to remove the noodles and transfer them to a separate bowl so they don't get soggy.
- Enjoy your stew as is or with over steamed rice.
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