Budae Jjigae – Korean Army Base Stew

Look at that name – what the heck is that you may ask. Did the Korean Army create it? Do you stew the Korean Army in a pot? Was this a stew made on a Korean Army Base? What eeeeeees this? 부대찌개 literally means “army base stew”. Budae can mean army, troop, or base depending on who is doing the interpreting. When I was a kid this stew was made many times by my mom who was not a good cook. She was a waitress on a US Marine Base so she had access to Spam. It was easy to make and cheap so I got it a lot. I didn’t mind though. I mean this meal is a spicy stew made with ham, sausage, Spam, kimchi and gochujang! Some people have been known to add baked beans or pretty much whatever leftovers they have on hand. My mom loved to throw in a pack of ramen in it to make it even better (aka saltier). This hodgepodge stew was created shortly after the armistice that ended the Korean War, using the scrounged or smuggled surplus foods from the U. S. army bases. The US soldiers that felt sorry for the starving South Koreans ravaged by the war gladly gave them cans of SPAM or sausages or anything else they had. Meat was hard to come by and the villagers gladly accepted this rectangular block of salty, tasty goodness. I love Spam. It is totally junk food and full of preservatives but apparently it also has crack in it because I crave it LOL. Just google the name and EVERYONE has a recipe version. It is like potato salad or that church casserole where everyone argues what must or must not go in. My Jersey people – you know the Garbage Pizza? It is like that but in a pot. If you hate Spam just use leftover Christmas ham or hot dogs. It’s a great way to get rid of leftovers and make a really big pot of stew that is delicious eaten with steamed Korean rice. It is not good for you but it is a wonderful treat during the cold winter months. I laugh when I see it in Korean restaurants for $14.99 and think about how it was considered the poorest of poor people’s cuisine when I was growing up. In good conscience I can not pay money for it. I do make a one person version for me whenever I feel a little “home” sick. Here is a link from my favorite youtube chef Maangchi but do not be afraid to experiment. This is one Korean dish you CAN NOT mess up, I promise.

Published by bridgey1967

Loyal. Funny. Sensitive. Loving.

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