Army Base Stew (부대찌게 Budae Jjigae)

Korean Kimchi Stew (부대찌게 Budae Jjigae)
Korean Kimchi Stew or Army Base Stew (부대찌게 Budae Jjigae)

After the Korean war, the US military stayed behind and setup bases in several locations throughout Korea. Usually near these bases,  one could buy American products -especially canned foods like, yes, the infamous SPAM!! So what to do with SPAM?  Well..what else? Add Kimchi!! Kimchi makes everything taste better!! And so this Kimchi Sausage Stew (aka 부대찌게 Budae or Boodae Jjigae) was born.  The name Budae means Army Base in Korean and by now you know Jjigae means stew. This dish is still very popular today and there is even a franchise restaurant that serves only Budae Jjigae. I wouldn’t say they serve the best but it’s not horrible either. Most Koreans say the area for the best Budae Jjigae is actually 의정부 (Uijeongbu) -the place of origin. Talking about American foods from these army bases…One memory I have about SPAM and other American goodies is that even when I was a kid (in the late 60’s early 70’s, many years after the war) this one lady (ajoomas) came  to our house and secretly sold various foods that were basically smuggled out of the army bases.  I remember getting excited every time this 양키 아줌마 (Yankee Ajooma – haha.. get it? ) would visit, to see what yummy goodies came out of her bag! Because, at that time, things like peanut butter, grape jelly, SPAM, American Kraft Cheese singles, corn beef, baked beans and chocolates were not available anywhere else. There are many variations to Budae Jjigae and the recipe here is the very basic one. I will list other variations at the end.   Servings: 4                          Cooking Time: 30 min                           Difficulty: Easy (very) Ingredients

  • 2 large half cabbage kimchi (4 C sliced)
  • 1/2 can SPAM, sliced
  • 2 hotdog sausages, sliced
  • 4 oz ground pork
  • 4-6 oz firm tofu, sliced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 2/3 C rice cake slices (optional)
  • 3 C water
  • 1 T gochujang (Korean red chili paste)

Directions 1. Selecting a good quality, sour Kimchi is very important. The kimchi I used here is actually the Kimchi I made as part of my Kimjang last year. Can you believe that it’s still good? It’s way too sour to eat fresh but totally tasty in jjigaes or fried rice. Here’s a pic of how it looks now-

kimjang kimchi in August
kimjang kimchi in August

Notice how the flesh has become kind of translucent – this is a definite sign that the kimchi has become quite sour. Normally you don’t want to buy this unless you are buying overly ripe, old kimchi (묵은지 Mookeunji) on purpose to make stews or fried rice. Now, cut the kimchi into slices like so..

Kimchi sliced for Budae Jjigae
Kimchi sliced for Budae Jjigae

2. Prepare remaining ingredients by washing, cutting slicing…

budae kimchi jjigae ingredients
budae kimchi jjigae ingredients

3. Now, get a pot or skillet with a cover and first layer Kimchi at the bottom and then the remaining ingredients on top except for the garlic. Pour water, cover and start cooking on Med High heat until it starts to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 min.

jjigae in pot with water
jjigae in pot with water

4. Add the chopped garlic and simmer for another 10 min or so. Taste the broth and adjust if necessary. If it’s too sour, add a little bit of sugar. For more spicy or stronger flavor, add more gochujang and garlic.

Budae Jjigae close up
Budae Jjigae close up

And it should be ready to eat!~ :)) Yum, yum.. Serve with some rice and you have a complete easy one dish meal! For a great side dish make stir fried string potatoes and serve it with mayonnaise.

Budae Jjigae (부대찌게) and Rice
Budae Jjigae (부대찌게) and Rice

For variations, you can add one or more of the following:

  • a slice of American cheese on top
  • ramen noodles – just add dried noodles to the pot in the middle of cooking. Be sure to add more water because noodles will absorb a lot of water (If you think you will have leftovers, don’t add ramen noodles to the pot since the noodles will continue to soak up any excess liquid).
  • baked beans
  • bacon
  • chrysanthemum leaves (쑥갓 sookat)

Storage: Budae Jjigae keeps well in the fridge and tastes even better when reheated. Just be sure to leave out noodles or rice cakes when storing. It also tastes good cold with hot rice – when you don’t feel like going through the trouble of reheating.. :)

21 thoughts on “Army Base Stew (부대찌게 Budae Jjigae)

  1. I just discovered your blog and I am really happy that I found your blog. You share great recipes and because of you I am beginning to think that cooking Korean food is really not difficult as I was expected.

    I am not Korean but I gained so much interest in Korean cultures through K-Pop :). Then I learned Hangul few months ago (online-self learning), I now able to write and read in Hangul but need more practice with speaking and vocabulary. Only recently I started to learn how to cook Korean cuisine. I made Kim Bab and Bibimbap. First attempt was turning well, my husband like it :). And I am going to try few of more recipes from your blog. I bought necessary ingredients in Korean supermarket last weekend. I will try Kimchi sausage stew may be tonight.

    Oh, btw nice to know you. I am Fenny from Kuala Lumpur. I shall intro my self in the beginning of my comment..hehe. 안녕하세오. Hope we can be friend.

    1. Hello Fenny,
      So happy that you found my blog! And thank you so much for your comments. I hope you like the kimchi sausage stew~ Please don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any. Take care my friend!

      1. 안녕하세요 JinJo ssi. I already tried the kimchi stew and cabbage soya paste soup. Both tasted good, hehe at least my hubby didnt complain. But I just feel the 부대찌게 is not sour enough. I guess the 김치 wasnt old enough. My method, I bought them in korean supermarket (imported from Korea, because the local 김치 taste teribble). Then I transfered in tupperware, keep in fridge for a week till look like translucent then I make the stew. But I guess its not sour enough. Will try again. Practice makes perfect :)

      2. Hi Fenny! Sounds like you did the right thing but maybe it needed a couple more days. You can also leave out the kimchi at room temp for about 1/2 day before putting it in fridge. If you made the jjigae already and feel the Kimchi is not sour enough for Kimchi stew then one quick way to correct it is to add a little bit of vinegar or add some saurkraut! Yup you will make perfect kimchi stew next time!

  2. Jinjoo, much appreciated for following through on my recipe request for this childhood comfort food of mine! I made it this past wkend and turned out great. In addition, I added ramen noodles, baked beans, enoki mushrooms while substituting the hot dog sausage for polish sausage and water for anchovy stock. Also, your picture for the final presentation for this dish is adorable. Thanks again Jinjoo.

    And a side note, I’m thrilled that you are posting more often. I truly look forward to your thoughtful, informational & refined Korean recipes.

    1. Hi Yujin! Thanks so much for checking and so glad that it turned out yummy for you. Budae Jjigae is def. comfort food.. ;)
      Yes, I am able to post much more often which I’m also very relieved and happy about. I am working on Chuncheon Dak Kalbi post right now and will be posting it very soon. Thanks again and take care!

  3. JinJoo, my sister just brought over some gakduggi kimchi that is either too salty or seems to have gotten over-ripe. I hate to toss it. Any ideas? Hoping I can use it to make jiggae.

    1. Hi Kathyrn!

      Is the kkakduki (gakduggi) just too salty? or over-ripe and too sour? If it’s just too salty, you should let it sit out at room temperature and fully ripe. If it’s too sour, you can certainly make kkakduki jjigae with it. Drain away the liquid and maybe add some tuna or pork if you want. Best way is to mix in some ripe cabbage kimchi with the kkakduki and that should tone down the sourness. You can also add a little bit of sugar to help with the salty and sour taste.
      You can also make dwenjang jjigae or chung gookjang jjigae with the kkaktuki. Just make jjigae like you normally would but cut up some kkaktuki and add to it. This should taste pretty yummy. Good luck!

  4. Wow… I love your blog…. And more and more I love to cook Korean food after i found this article…
    I open a small Korean noodle restaurant in Tangerang, Indonesia (Jakarta suburbs area). . And i want to develope my menu by put budae jigae based on this recipe. Thank you.

    1. Oh, how exciting and so glad that you want to put budae jjigae on your menu. I would love to hear or see pictures of how it turned out. Congratulations on opening your own restaurant! Thank you!

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