A South Korean hot pot bubbling with spam, hot dogs, kimchi, instant noodles, and processed cheese! Make easy, delicious, spicy Budae Jjigae (aka Army Stew) to enjoy with friends and family!
Is there anything better than a bubbling, jiggling pot of Budae Jjigae or Army Stew?
Take off the lid and release a torrent of volcanic steam. All kinds of spicy goodness! Spam, hot dogs, instant noodles, kimchi, seafood stock, and processed cheese — what could be better? NOTHING!
Amazingly, this Korean Budae Jjigae recipe is also one of my favorite ways to host. So easy to put together! No cooking required! Simply assemble and serve!
When friends arrive, bring the pre-assembled pot to the table and simmer over a portable gas burner. There will be lots of oohs and ahhs while the jjigae bubbles away and everyone digs in to eat.
What is Budae Jjigae?
Budae Jjigae or Korean Army Stew is a popular South Korean stew that’s filled with Spam, hot dogs, and instant noodles. Vibrantly red, the combination of flavors from the processed meat and spicy paste is quite special. And addictive!
This spicy Korean stew originates from the US occupation after the Korean War. What began as survival food in the city of Uijeongbu is now a Korean classic. Korean people staved off hunger and deprivation by taking surplus US army food supplies and cleverly innovating them with Korean ingredients.
The combination of Korean food items (rice cakes, tofu, sweet potato noodles, Gochujang) with US army base food items (spam, hot dogs, instant noodles, processed cheese) makes for a wonderfully delicious and truly irresistible flavor combination!
For a 4-person Korean Budae Jjigae recipe that’s got that “wow” factor, I recommend a variety of ingredients and textures.
- Spam. Essential ingredient! The flavor is SO addictive with kimchi and spicy sauce.
- Hot Dogs/Sausages. Choose one or both.
- Kimchi. Old, well-fermented kimchi tastes best when cooked.
- Tofu. Soaks up all that spicy goodness! I recommend soft/silken tofu for that silky smoothness.
- Rice cakes (tteok/dduk). Chewy + squishy, they are my favorite texture in this jjigae!
- Noodles. I add two kinds: Dang myeon (sweet potato noodle) which are springy and bouncy. And instant noodles which are soft, slightly chewy, and textured.
- Kraft Cheese Slices. Processed cheese is a must! Add at the end, with the heat turned off, so it doesn’t melt away.
- Spicy Sauce: Gochujang (Korean chili paste), Gochukaru (Korean chile flakes), sugar, soy sauce, Mirin (sweet cooking wine), garlic.
- Seafood Stock. Make your own anchovy stock or buy seafood stock at the store. The seafood flavor makes a big difference. Chicken stock is an acceptable substitute.
- Vegetables: Enoki mushrooms, crown daisy, or Shitake mushrooms.
Assemble everything in a shallow cooking pot:
- Sliced spam
- Old Kimchi
- Cut up hot dogs/sausages
- Sliced Tofu
- Rice cakes
- Dang myeon
- Spicy Sauce
At the table, add the seafood stock and bring to a boil. While it cooks, add vegetables, instant noodles, and cheese slices. Enjoy!
How to serve:
Use a portable gas burner to serve this special Korean stew. Bring the assembled Army Stew and add stock, right at the table. Bring to a boil and wait for the stew to cook.
Similar to Chinese hot pot, everyone sits at the table and serves themselves. The communal cooking pot sits in the middle and bubbles away while people chat and drink. A true one-pot meal, you could also serve rice although it’s not necessary.
While the Army Base Stew cooks, feel free to add vegetables and more stock/water, as needed. Turn down the heat to low or turn it off altogether.
Special Equipment: Portable Gas Burner + Shallow Braiser
Budae Jjigae is an easy recipe to share with friends. A portable gas burner and shallow braiser makes it easier to eat communally.
If you don’t have access to one, cook on the stovetop until everything’s hot and bubbling. Then, bring it to the table. Dig in and eat!
Can I make this less spicy?
Yes, you definitely can! For a milder, less spicy Budae Jjigae, simply adjust the sauce ingredients. Notes are included in the recipe card below.
FYI, this Budae Jjigae recipe is not overwhelmingly spicy. I would say it’s moderately spicy. All the noodles, tofu, and rice cakes absorb the spicyness and make the overall flavor milder.
What’s the difference between Kimchi Jjigae and Budae Jjigae?
While both Kimchi Jjigae and Budae Jjigae are both Korean stews, they are very different.
Kimchi Jjigae is all about the kimchi. The flavor highlights old, well fermented, mature kimchi.
By contrast, Budae Jjigae or Army Stew is a spicy stew flavored with Spam, hot dogs, instant noodles, and processed cheese.
What other food items are commonly added to Budae Jjigae?
Other food items are frequently added, such as dumplings, fish cakes (Eomuk), canned baked beans, and Vienna sausages. Feel free to substitute and add what you like.
PIN FOR LATER:
More Korean Food Inspiration:
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Cheese Buldak (Fire Chicken)
- Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)
- Gamjatang (Korean Porkbone Soup)
Easy Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Stew)
- Portable gas burner
- Large shallow braiser
- 4 ounces Dang Myeon or a large handful
- 1 cup Korean rice cakes (if frozen)
- 2 Tbsp Gochujang Korean chile paste
- 1 Tbsp Gochukaru Korean chile flakes
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Mirin or rice wine
- 3 cloves ground garlic
Assemble in pot:
- 1 can Spam halved then cut in 1/2-inch slices
- 8 links Hot dogs and/or Sausages, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup Kimchi with juice, preferably old and mature kimchi
- 1 package Soft or Silken Tofu drained and cubed
Assemble on plate:
- 1 cup Crown Daisy or Spinach or Mixed Salad greens optional
- 1 bunch Enoki Mushrooms optional
- 1 package Instant Noodle noodles only, do not use soup base
- 4 slices processed cheese
- 4 cups/1 Litre Seafood Stock (chicken stock also works) more if necessary **see notes below
- 2 green onions sliced
- In a large bowl, add Dang Myeon (sweet potato noodles) and cover with cold water. Set aside and soak for 10 minutes, while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
- In a small bowl, add frozen rice cakes. Cover with cold water and soak for 10 minutes, while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
- In a small bowl, add ingredients for spicy sauce. Mix well and set aside.
- On a serving platter, arrange the crown daisy and/or spinach, enoki mushrooms, instant noodles, and cheese slices. Bring to the table.
Assemble Budae Jjigae:
- In a large, shallow braiser, begin assembly by adding each component one at a time.
- Slice and shingle Spam. Lay down the middle of the braiser.
- Add kimchi and kimchi juice.
- Add hot dogs and/or sausages.
- Add diced tofu. I prefer soft/silken tofu, but you can use any kind you like.
- Drain the Korean rice cakes and sprinkle evenly on top.
- Drain the Korean Sweet Potato noodles or Dang Myeon and add on top of everything.
- Add spicy sauce directly on top of the noodles.
- Bring the shallow braiser to the table and place on top of the portable gas burner. Add 4 cups/1 L stock and bring to a boil. (If you don't own one, see notes below).
- When the sausage is cooked through and the noodles are clear and pliable, add the instant noodles and cook for 2 more minutes. The Budae Jjigae is ready to eat. Use tongs to mix around the spicy sauce into the bubbling stew.
- While the jjigae cooks in the middle of the table, guests can help themselves from the communal pot.Add crown daisy/spinach and enoki mushrooms while it bubbles away, if using. You can also serve with additional instant noodle and cheese slices.Serve with rice. Eat immediately.