Budae Jjigae (Army Stew)

Budae jjigae - Army stew

Budae jjigae (부대찌개) is a fusion dish that incorporates American processed meats such as Spam, bacon, and hot dogs into a Korean stew. Budae is a general term for a military base in Korean, but budae jjigae is translated into “Army stew” or “Army base stew” because of its origin. In the 1950’s, food was extremely scarce after the three-year long Korean war which ended in 1953. So, those surplus processed meats from the U.S. military bases were great sources for Koreans to supplement their food shortage. In the city of Uijeongbu (의정부), about 12 miles northeast of Seoul, where U.S. Army bases are stationed, a restaurant owner started to make a stew with those meats from the Army bases. Since then, budae jjigae has become immensely popular all over the Korea.

Growing up as a child in 1960’s, I remember occasionally having things like Spam, hot dogs, or bacon in our kimchi stew. Those American products were not legally available to Koreans at the time, but somehow they found their way to Korean homes through a black market. That was a time when the best treat a little child could wish for was a Hershey chocolate bar.

Budae jjigae

Budae jjigae - Army stew

Budae jjigae is relatively easy to make. As long as it has kimchi and some American processed meats, it’s a budae jjigae. You can’t go wrong with the combination of sour kimchi and fatty bacon, spam and hot dogs. The older the kimchi is, the better your stew will taste. I had saved the last batch of the kimchi I made last fall for this budae jjigae recipe post.

Slices of American yellow cheese and canned baked beans are also commonly added. Some other popular additions are instant ramyeon noodles, rice cake slices, and/or starch noodles. Be careful though. Too many starches will make the stew very thick. I like to keep it simple, and here’s how I make it at home.

Budae jjigae - Army stew


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4.84 from 6 votes

Budae Jjigae (Army Stew)

A Korean stew made with kimchi, Spam, bacon and hot dogs
Servings: 4
Author: Hyosun


  • 2 cups bite sized kimchi
  • 2 hot dogs sliced diagonally
  • 3 strips bacon or about 3 ounces fatty pork
  • 1/3 can of spam about 4 ounces
  • 4 ounces tofu sliced (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 1/2 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 mushroom caps sliced
  • 1/4 red bell pepper sliced
  • 2 scallions roughly chopped
  • 4 cups anchovy broth or water -- see notes below


  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru Korean red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon gochujang Korean red chili pepper paste
  • 1 teaspoon soup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Black pepper to taste


  • 1 package instant ramyeon noodles


  • Cut the ingredients into bite size pieces, and arrange them in a medium size shallow pot. Mix all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
    Budae jjigae (Army stew)
  • Add the broth, and stir in the seasoning.
    Budae jjigae (Army Stew)
  • Cook over medium high heat until the bacon is cooked through and the kimchi has softened. Add the optional ramyeon noodles and more broth or water if necessary. (The noodles soak up a lot of the liquid, so I briefly cook the ramyeon noodles in a separate pot of water before adding to the stew.) Budae jjigae (Army Stew)


Find how to make anchovy broth here - https://www.koreanbapsang.com/2011/06/how-to-make-anchovy-broth-for-korean.html.
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