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Army Base Stew (부대찌개, Budae-Jjigae)

Budae Jigae or “Army Base Stew” originated in the 1950s after the Korean War ended. Food was scarce after the war, and Koreans would take surplus foods from the American military bases and put it in a stew, hence its name. The stew comprises of processed meats like spam, hotdogs, ham, sometimes baked beans and sliced cheese! I love that this dish originated from such an interesting piece of Korean history! Needless to say, this stew is delicious and usually served in restaurants in a large bubbling pot for a group to share.

Quick Notes:

⏲ <1 hour

🇰🇷 Some ingredients may need to be bought at a Korean grocery or online.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Serves 4 people.

👍🏻 Very easy and great for beginners!

What you will need:

2-3 cups overripe kimchi

½ can of spam in bite sized pieces

2 hotdogs cut in bite sized pieces

1 package of ramen noodles (cheap brand, don’t waste a shin ramyun for this!)

5 green onions cut into chunks

1 package of firm tofu

1 handful of rice cake, soaked in cold water for 30 min

½ onion, sliced


1 handful of dried kelp

10 dried anchovies (without the heads and guts)

6 cups water

Soup base:

2 tablespoon red pepper paste

1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon soup soy sauce (or regular soy sauce)

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1 teaspoon of sugar


Make the Broth:

Boil 6 cups of water with 1 handful of kelp and 10 dried anchovies. Reduce heat and cover for 10 minutes.

Make the soup base:

Mix the soup base ingredients, set aside.

Prep the Ingredients:

Cut the rest of the ingredients as shown. Place ingredients into your pot (I used my Le Creuset® Braising pan).

Now the rest:

Your broth should be ready by the time you are done prepping your ingredients. Remove the kelp and anchovies. Pour the broth into your pot with the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Uncover your pot, add the ramyun noodles. Increase your heat back to a boil until the ramyun noodles softens. Now you’re ready to eat!

TIP: Taste your soup when you are about to eat. If it tastes too sour, then add another teaspoon of sugar. Sometimes you have to do this depending on how ripe your kimchi is.

If you are a bit more adventurous, you can also add a small can of baked beans, sliced American cheese, or ½ lb of ground beef.

And when you're done, be sure to post some pictures and tag them with #ahjummarecipes. I'd love to see your results!


Some common Korean ingredients that may be hard to find at your local grocery store!

Black Bean Paste

Red Hot Pepper Paste

Red Hot Pepper Flakes

Dried Kelp (for broth)

Dried Anchovies (for broth)

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Who am I? YouTube/internet self-taught Korean cook, full-time working mommy of two, ahjumma and proud of it, I'm a Kim that makes bap!

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