Budae Jjigae (Korean “army base stew”)

The shortest time ramen was served up to me was at this highway drive by on the Cambodia-Vietnam border. We arrived there past lunch hour and found the counter empty of precooked dishes.  A woman approached our table and speaking to the two colleagues (locals) who were with me said she could cook us noodles. They turned to me for confirmation and I said, sure, why not? She served us ramen like 10 seconds after. It was one of the best, too.


for the dashi stock:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 dried anchovies, head and innards removed (or 3 tbsp fish sauce)
  • 1 sheet dried kelp (kombu)

for sauce:

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
  • 1-2 tbsp Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru) (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
  • generous pinch black pepper (optional)

for the stew:

  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped kimchi, well-fermented
  • 2 scallions, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 2 hot dogs or 2 oz Polish kielbasa, sliced
  • 4 oz Spam (1/3 can, or more if you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup dduk (Korean rice cakes, optional)
  • 4-6 oz tofu, sliced (1/2 package, optional)
  • 1/4 cup baked beans (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1-2 packets ramen
  • slices of white American cheese or mozzarella, for topping


  1. If using dduk, place it in a bowl with plenty of cold water and let soak while you prepare everything else.
  2. Prepare the stock. Combine 6 cups water, mushrooms, anchovies, and dried kelp in a large 5-6 quart pot, or a hot pot if you have one. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, then remove kelp. If using anchovies, let simmer for another 5 minutes, then remove anchovies.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the sauce ingredients (garlic, gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, and pepper) in a small bowl.
  4. Place the cabbage, onion, kimchi, scallions, and sliced meat into the simmering broth, then place the ground beef in the center. If using, also add the dduk, sliced tofu, beans, and mushrooms. Pour the sauce over top. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until ground beef is cooked. Stir the ground beef to break it up into smaller pieces. You can leave the other ingredients in a ring around the beef for presentation, or just mix it all up.
  5. Add the ramen to the center of the broth and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until noodles are soft. Top with American cheese or mozzarella if desired, and enjoy immediately!

From tworedbowls


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