Budae jjigae is an interesting dish that combines American and Korean flavors pretty deliciously. It’s a combination of an eclectic array of ingredients: hot dogs, canned ham, spam, gochujang, ramen noodles, kimchi, mushrooms, and other ingredients such as seasonal vegetables, rice cakes, and tofu. It’s a hodge podge of a dish that has been incorporated into many a family’s repertoire–spicy, satisfying, and all around filling.

Its nickname “army base stew” refers to its military origins. After the Korean war, there was a surplus of American army rations, so naturally, these foreign ingredients made their way into Korean dishes. Although originally born out of necessity, this fusion dish has retained its popularity in Korea, and beyond. Avid budae jjigae lovers flock to Korean restaurants to get their fix, but any home cook can whip up a delicious pot. Now you can too, thanks to Joe McPherson of ZenKimchi, who’s graciously donated his easy recipe, complete with step by step instructions.

Joe McPherson’s Budae Jjigae

Start with a base of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) mixed with minced garlic and onion.

Add water, but not too much. Turn the heat to high.

Add chopped onion, garlic, and chiles, and bring the fiery hell broth to a boil. Include some sliced leeks if you have some.

At this point, add the meats. The tradition is hot dogs and spam. Yet who says you can’t throw in some more premium items like kielbasa, bratwurst, and smoked Virginia ham? Really, a few sites and forums say that you need spam in it to make it taste authentic.

Keep boiling. Now it’s time to add the vegetables. I think these are chrysanthemum greens in the picture, but throw in any hearty dark green veggies like kale, turnip greens, or collards. You can also do the traditional thing and toss in some baked beans and tofu.

At the end of cooking, toss in some noodles. Ramen noodles are popular, as are clear Korean japchae noodles. If the water is low, add more. Throw in a dash of soju if the mood strikes you.

Serve the stew bubbling with plenty of rice to counter the intense heat and flavors. Wash it down with a good beer and soju.

Check out Joe’s blog here. Photo credit: Joe McPherson >>

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