During back to my trip to Korea last month, I tried a dish that changed my world forever. It was budae jjigae.
Budae jjigae literally translates to “army stew”. It is an extremely comforting and has quite the history. The dish originated during the Korean War when American soldiers were stationed in Seoul. They brought along with them cans of Spam, baked beans, hot dogs, frankfurt sausages, macaroni, and other foods that were foreign to Korean tastebuds. But as you know, Koreans like their food spicy and with a definite kick. They created budae jjigae, essentially a stew combining all these foreign American foods with kimchi, gochujang, and gochugaru to make it spicy and add a Korean flare. It is the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and salty. This dish is far from sodium-free.
I first tried this dish when I was in Korea last month. It was so damn good. Sadly, I was suffering from the worst soju-induced hangover of my entire life. I was out cold for the entire day. I couldn’t even keep this delicious food down. Sigh. But I never forgot about it and I knew that this would be the first Korean dish I would make once I was back home. And since the weather has been anything but pleasant, I made this dish at the perfect time.
The dish as I remember contained a variety of ingredients: Spam, hot dogs, bacon, ground pork, leeks, udon noodles, macaroni, ramyun noodles, and kimchi. I did some additional research online to see what other versions of budae jjigae had and some included baked beans and cheese (it might sound weird but American cheese on ANY type of spicy Korean stew is a fucking dream). I decided to blend the version I had in Korea and some of the recipes I’d seen online. It was absolutely divine. I already can’t wait to make this again.
What you’ll need to do:
– 7-8 cups of homemade stock
– 2 tbsp gochujang
– 3 tsps gochugaru (less if you want it mild)
– 1 can baked beans or pork and beans, liquid included
– 3 leeks, sliced
– 2 slices bacon, sliced
– 2 cups kimchi, juice included
– 6 hot dogs, sliced
– Handful of chives or scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
– 1 pkg of instant ramyun, noodles only
What you’ll need to do:
1. Prepare the soup base. In a medium-sized pot, heat the homemade stock, gochujang, and gochugaru. Keep warm while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. In a deep saucepan (or portable/table top hot pot), place all beans, bacon, hot dogs, scallions/chives, and 1/2 of the leeks neatly, reserving the instant ramyun for later. When you are ready, turn on the stove to high and add the stock in. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (til the bacon is cooked through). Add the instant noodles and serve immediately.
3. Serve on its own or with a bowl of rice.
Note: There will be leftover soup base and leeks leftover. I like to serve some of the budae jjigae and add more soup base and the rest of the leeks to the leftovers and let it simmer til I finish eating. The end product is spicy, sweet, slightly thickened and so good once you let it sit for a bit.