Easy Budae Jjigae [Korean Army Base Stew]

A South Korean fusion hot pot bubbling with spam, hot dogs, kimchi, instant noodles, and processed cheese!  Make easy, delicious, spicy Budae Jjigae recipe (aka Army Base Stew) to enjoy with friends and family!

budae jjigae in electric hot pot with plate of ingredients nearby

Is there anything better than a bubbling pot of Budae Jjigae or Army Base 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! There’s no cooking required, just some prep and assembly.

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!

ingredients for budae jjigae in electric hot pot, surrounded by more ingredients

What is Budae Jjigae?

Budae Jjigae or Army Base Stew is a South Korean hot pot well known for the inclusion of Spam and hot dogs. Vibrantly red and flavored with kimchi and spicy sauce, the unique flavor is quite special!

Also known as Army Base Stew, the recipe originates from the US occupation in South Korea after the Korean War. What began as survival food in the city of Uijeongbu is now a Korean classic. The history of this fusion dish tells us how the Korean people staved off hunger and deprivation throughly clever innovation. They took strange new foods from the US army and adapted them to the Korean palate with Korean ingredients and cooking methods.

The combination of Korean food items (rice cakes, tofu, sweet potato noodles, Gochujang, kimchi) with US army base food items (spam, hot dogs, instant noodles, processed cheese) make for a wonderfully delicious and truly addicting flavor combination!

budae jjigae ingredients in electric hot pot on table

Budae Jjigae Ingredients:

For a 4-person Korean Budae Jjigae recipe that’s got that “wow” factor, I recommend a variety of flavors and textures.

  • Spam. Essential ingredient! The flavor is SO addictive with kimchi and spicy sauce.
  • Hot Dogs/Sausages/Vienna sausages. Choose 1 out of the 3 that you like best.
  • Kimchi. Old, well fermented kimchi tastes best.
  • 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!
  • Sauce: Gochujang (chili paste), Gochukaru (chile flakes), sugar, soy sauce, Mirin (sweet rice 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.

Other food items to add or substitute:

  • Korean fish cakes
  • Canned baked beans
  • Ham
  • Dumplings
  • Bacon
budae jjigae with plate of ingredients on the side

How to Make Budae Jjigae:

Prep the ingredients:

  • Soak the dang myeon noodles in cold water
  • Soak the rice cakes in cold water
  • Mix the spicy sauce together
  • Add vegetables, cheese, and instant noodles to a platter

Then assemble everything in a shallow braiser, in order:

  1. Sliced spam
  2. Old Kimchi
  3. Cut up hot dogs/sausages
  4. Sliced Tofu
  5. Drained rice cakes
  6. Drained Dang myeon
  7. 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 eat Budae Jjigae or Army Base Stew:

Koreans typically serve this dish at the table over a portable gas burner.  Simply bring the assembled Army Base Stew to the table. Add stock then bring to a boil. While everyone waits for the stew to cook, people can chat and drink.

The cooking and eating experience is similar to hot pot. Everyone sits at the table and serves themselves from the communal cooking pot in the middle while it bubbles and simmers away. You don’t need any other food although you could serve a bowl of rice for each person, if you like.

While the Army Base Stew cooks, feel free to add vegetables and more stock or 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. To that end, a portable gas burner and shallow braiser makes it easier to eat communally.

If you don’t have access to a portable gas burner or hot pot, cook on the stovetop until everything’s hot and bubbling. Then, bring it to the table. Dig in and eat!

Can I make Budae Jjigae 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 really not that spicy. All the noodles, tofu, and rice cakes absorb the spicyness and make the overall flavor more mild.

PIN FOR LATER:

What’s the difference between Kimchi Jjigae and Budae Jjigae?

Jjigae is the Korean term for chunky stews. While both Kimchi Jjigae and Budae Jjigae are both Korean stews that contain kimchi, they are very different.

Kimchi Jjigae is all about the kimchi. The flavor highlights old, well fermented, mature kimchi.

Budae Jjigae or Army Base Stew, on the other hand, includes multiple components. The flavor is more about the various processed meats, tofu, rice cakes, and noodles.

More Korean Food Inspiration you may enjoy:

budae jjigae ingredients in electric hot pot on table

Easy Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Base Stew)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
A South Korean fusion hot pot bubbling with spam, hot dogs, kimchi, instant noodles, and processed cheese!  Make easy, delicious, spicy Budae Jjigae recipe (aka Army Base Stew) to enjoy with friends and family!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Stew
Cuisine Fusion Food, Hot Pot, Korean
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Portable gas burner
  • Large shallow braiser

Ingredients
  

Pre-soak:

  • 4 ounces Dang Myeon or a large handful
  • 1 cup Korean rice cakes (if frozen)

Spicy Sauce

  • 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

Additional ingredients:

  • 4 cups/1 Litre Seafood Stock (chicken stock also works) more if necessary **see notes below
  • 2 green onions sliced

Instructions
 

Prep ingredients:

  • 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.
    ingredients for budae jjigae on plate and 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.
    sliced and shingled spam in electric hot pot
  • Add kimchi and kimchi juice.
    sliced spam and kimchi in electric hot pot
  • Add hot dogs and/or sausages.
    sliced spam, kimchi, and sausage in electric hot pot
  • Add diced tofu.  I prefer soft/silken tofu, but you can use any kind you like.  
    sliced spam, kimchi, sausage, tofu in hot pot
  • Drain the Korean rice cakes and sprinkle evenly on top.
    ingredients for budae jjigae in hot pot
  • Drain the Korean Sweet Potato noodles or Dang Myeon and add on top of everything.
    ingredients for hot pot in electric hot pot
  • 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).
    budae jjigae ingredients in electric hot pot on table
  • 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.
    budae jjigae in electric hot pot with plate of ingredients nearby

Notes

*If using sausage, please make sure to check for doneness.  
**Feel free to add additional seafood/chicken stock if the soup becomes too thick.  I usually bring an additional box of stock (4 cups/1L) or water to the table and add as needed.
***This dish works best with a portable gas burner or electric hot pot. If you don’t have access to either option, follow instructions but cook on the stovetop. When everything’s hot and bubbling, bring it to the table.
****For a milder version, adjust the spicy sauce:  1 Tbsp Gochujang, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp Mirin, 3 cloves garlic (minced).
Keyword Army Base Stew, Budae Jjigae
All Recipes, Dinner with Friends, Gochujang, Korean, Pork, Soup

6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Tried this dish tonight and the family loved it! It was very easy to assemble given the short amount of time we had between kids’ activities and dinner. Everything just hit the spot. Thanks for the recipe!

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  6. Yum! I love ordering this dish when I go out for Korean food. I can’t wait to try this dish out! Thanks for sharing!

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