Photo by ChiHon Kim

Photo by ChiHon Kim ()

Budae-jjigae, or army base stew, is a spicy sausage stew made with ham, sausage, spam, baked beans, gochujang (red chili paste) and kimchi. You may notice this dish isn't Korea's traditional food handed down from generation to generation.

The dish was created shortly after the Korean War, using surplus foods from U.S. military bases. Budae-jjigae is mixture of Korean stew and western ingredients. At the time, the dish served as a great source of nourishment in post-war poverty-stricken Korea and remains popular to this day.

Whether the inventive creators of the budae-jjigae meant to or not, the delicious harmony of Spam and spicy Korean ingredients has made the dish part of peninsula cuisine. You’ll find budae-jjigae served at many restaurants, but you can make this at home when you’re trying to get rid of leftover ingredients in your fridge, too.

- PREP TIME: 15 mins - COOK TIME: 15 mins - TOTAL TIME: 30 mins - DIFFICULTY: Easy - SERVINGS: 3


• 200g SPAM thinly sliced • 4 pieces (120g) pork sausage thinly sliced • 100g bacon cut into lardons (1 cm/0.4 inches) • 100g ham • 1 green onion (40g) cut into 1cm thick slices (or thinly & diagonally) • 2 Tbsp baked beans • 2/3 cup fermented kimchi cut into small pieces • 130g quarter onions, thinly sliced or cut into cubes • 1- 2 American sliced cheese • 2 chili peppers cut into 0.5cm thick thinly and diagonally • 100g enoki mushrooms rinsed (optional) • 100g oyster mushrooms rinsed (optional) • 100g bean sprouts rinsed (optional) • 250g tofu (1/2 block) cut into 1.5cm thick strip or cubes. (optional) • 50g Korean rice cake – optional (soak the rice cakes in a cold water for about at least 20 minutes if they are hard or frozen) • 50g instant noodles (1/2 package) or raw noodles - optional

Seasoning Sauce

• 4 tbsp dark soy sauce • 3 tbsp oyster sauce (optional) • 2 tbsp minced garlic • 1 tsp flavor enhancer (optional) • 1 tbsp chicken stock base (optional) • 1 tbsp red pepper paste • 2 tbsp chili powder • Black pepper

Tip for enjoying army base stew

• Due to the noodles and rice cakes in the recipe, it’s easy for the starch to create a soggy stew. I recommend adding pre-cooked noodles as the last step of the cooking process.

• Use broth made with chicken, beef or anchovy. I prefer to use chicken base or beef bone broth soup premade available at any Korean grocery store to make cooking faster and easier.

• Prepare extra warm water or broth, so you can add it to the pot if necessary.

• This stew is a great fridge-clear option if you have some veggies and left overs.


  1. Rinse and cut all the ingredients into bite-size pieces.

  1. As you finish your slicing and chopping, you can place them in a shallow pot except for noodles and rice cakes.

  1. Mix all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and add the sauce in the middle of pot.

  1. Pour water or broth around sauce until the ingredients slightly covered in liquid.

  1. Cook over high heat first and reduce to medium heat when it starts to boil. Reduce the pot to low heat when the kimchi and vegetables are softened. Add the optional noodles and rice cakes you prepared beforehand and cheese. (Pour more broth if necessary.)

  1. Serve with bowl of rice. Bon appetite or 잘 먹겠습니다! (Pronounced: jal meok-ke-sseum-nida)!

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