Budae Jjigae (Army Base Stew)

January 22, 2019

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Growing up, I only got to eat budae jjigae on rare occasions. My parents would bring out the portable butane gas burner from the pantry and place it in the middle of the round kitchen table where all of the neatly chopped ingredients were already set out. It was a departure from the more modest dishes like miyeokguk (seaweed soup) or tteokguk (rice cake soup) that we'd eat on most weeknights. In fact, we were accustomed to having the same soup heated and reheated for several consecutive days, sometimes even the entire week, until my mother could see the bottom of the pot.

Budae jjigae, or "army base stew," was the opposite of that. We'd open the lid to the violently bubbling pot and, once the cloud of steam evaporated, get a clear view of the stew in which a medley of Korean staples were bobbing: thinly-cut enoki mushrooms, diced green onions, minced garlic, oval-shaped slices of white rice cake, squares of silky tofu, and of course kimchi. Red pepper powder, together with the kimchi, leant the soup base its alarmingly red color, brewing up a flavor that was quintessentially Korean. One whiff of it could nearly singe your nostril hairs and have you salivating like a jindo dog.

Grace Moon

Food52 Review: Featured in: When My Grandmother Fled North Korea, She Left Behind Army Base Stew.The Editors

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

Stew

  • 1 handful chopped kimchi
  • 1 handful sliced Korean rice cakes
  • 1 handful hot dogs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 can Spam, sliced
  • 1 small can baked beans
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1/2 cup tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 package instant ramen noodles, preferably Shin Ramyeon brand
  • Cheongyang gochu (Korean red peppers), thinly sliced, for garnish

Broth

  • 5 cups water
  • 5 myulchi, or dried anchovies, heads and innards removed
  • 5 inches dashima, or dried kelp
  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 1 tablespoon soup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 pinch ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon scallions, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Arrange all of the stew ingredients (except for the ramen noodles) in a large, wide-rimmed pot.
  2. In another pot, cook the water, dried anchovies, and dried kelp for 10 minutes on medium heat, lid covered.
  3. Add the anchovy broth into the stew pot with the arranged ingredients, and turn the heat to high.
  4. Stir together the red pepper powder, soy sauce, mirin, ginger, and garlic into a paste and add to the stew. Bring to a boil and cook until the kimchi softens slightly.
  5. Just before turning off the heat, add the ramen noodles and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Garnish with sliced scallions and red peppers, and season with black pepper.

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