Dinner/ Recipes

Easy Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)

06/02/2019 (Last Updated: 02/12/2019)

Learn how to cook this easy Korean-American hotpot recipe. Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) transforms simple everyday ingredients like spam, noodles, mushroom and veggies into a mouth-watering spicy stew. Budae Jjigae is perfect for sharing and entertaining too – if you have a table top cooker, why not cook it all together with friends!

Korean army stew ingredients simmering in an electric frypan.

Why We Love This Recipe

  • This is such an easy recipe to make at home because it’s so flexible! Make use of the ingredients you have, or the ones you love the most, and make it your way! If there’s something you don’t like, or it’s not easy to source, you can leave it out. 
  • This addictive recipe is the perfect remedy on a cold winter’s night, when you just want a fiery, spicy dish to warm you up from the inside out! (That said, we’re so addicted we’ll eat it on a steamy summer’s afternoon. So I guess this one is just about perfect to enjoy all year round.)
  • All you need are a few tasty ingredients, a hotpot or frypan, and some hungry friends to eat it all up! 

Using chopsticks to pull cooked enoki mushrooms out of the stew.

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Stew ingredients simmering in the spicy Korean stew broth.

What is Korean Army Stew?

A blend of east-meets-west, this spicy Korean stew recipe infuses the flavour-packed intensity of Korean cuisine with American processed foods such as spam, sausages and cheese. 

Korean Army Stew Origin

This fusion-style recipe became popular after the end of the Korean War, when food was scarce and American army surplus supplies were easier to come by.

A close up of Korean army stew ingredients including tofu, rice cakes (tteok) and sliced green onions.

What You’ll Need

For the main stew ingredients:

Here are a few signature inclusions, feel free to pick and choose!

  • Processed meat – such as spam, frankfurters, sausages or ground meat
  • Cheese – you can use pre-sliced cheese, but we like spreading generous amounts of grated cheese aaaalllll across the top
  • Korean rice cakes (tteok) – there are two main shapes often used in Korean dishes such as this stew as well as Tteokkboki – sliced rice cake and cylinder rice cake.
  • Instant ramen noodles – just plain ol’ regular instant ramen or udon noodles
  • Fresh kimchi
  • Green onion – aka spring onion
  • Tofu – soft or firm, both work well. We usually prefer firm tofu which holds its shape better in the hot broth
  • Mushrooms – enoki, oyster or shiitake  (or all three if you’re a mushroom fiend like us!)

How to prepare Korean Army Stew

For the rice cakes:

  • If you’re using Korean rice cakes (tteok), place in a bowl and cover with hot water to soften them first while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

For the stock:

  • This spicy Korean stew is made with of a range of tasty ingredients cooked in a spicy broth. The simmering blend of gochujang (spicy Korean chilli paste), chilli flakes, rice wine, sugar, garlic soy sauce and chicken stock will set your mouth watering before you even take a bite!
  • Add all the stock ingredients into a large frypan, wok, fondue hot or hotpot, mix together over low heat. 

Bringing gochujang broth to the boil in a medium sized electric frypan.

To assemble:

  • Layer your main ingredients in the pan (in artful sections, or mixed in all together – it’s totally up to you!)

Adding rice cakes to Korean army stew, along with ramen noodles, frankfurts and enoki mushrooms.

  • Turn up the heat and layer everything with generous amounts of cheese.
  • Cook on high heat until ingredients such as noodles and frankfurts are cooked through. 
  • Serve your Korean Army Stew just how you like it – either hotpot style in the middle of the table and allow everyone to help themselves, or dish out into individual bowls.

Sprinkling grated cheese over the top of Korean army stew ingredients, simmering in gochujang based broth.

Tips

  • If you have a hotpot, fondue pot, or an electric frypan like us, this dish is fun and easy to cook on the table, which makes it perfect for friends to enjoy delicious food and fun conversation! But you can also just as easily cook it on the stove and dish out into small individual bowls. 
  • In the below recipe we’ve included quantities for stock ingredients, but not for the main ingredients. This is because it really depends on how much you want to cook (and/or how hungry your friends are). You can easily prepare as much or as little as you like, and add more ingredients to cook as you go if your friends are still hungry or completely, totally, hopelessly addicted.

Korean army stew ingredients simmering in an electric frypan.

FAQs

Can I prepare Korean Army Stew ahead of time?

It’s possible to prepare the stock separately and heat it up when you’re ready to eat. But we think this stew is best when prepared fresh and cooked immediately. That said, once all the main ingredients are eaten, we often reserve any remaining stock and reheat it along with extra noodles and other fresh ingredients to enjoy as leftovers the next day. 

Using chopsticks to pull cooked enoki mushrooms out of the stew.

Variations & Substitutes

  • If you can’t source gochujang, you can make a paste out of regular red chilli flakes mixed with sugar and a dash of soy. (Use 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes for every tablespoon of gochujang required). 

 

Try These Tasty Korean Recipes

 

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating below

Stew ingredients simmering in the spicy Korean stew broth.

Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)

Learn how to cook this easy Korean-American hotpot recipe. Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) transforms simple everyday ingredients like spam, noodles, mushroom and veggies into a mouth-watering spicy stew. Budae Jjigae is perfect for sharing and entertaining too - if you have a table top cooker, why not cook it all together with friends!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 315kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5-10

Equipment

  • Knife and chopping board
  • Electric frypan OR large saucepan on the stove
  • Ladle

Ingredients

For the Stock:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp gochujang or substitute with 2 tbsp chilli flakes blended with a pinch of sugar and a dash of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic or fresh if you prefer, we just like the convenience
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tsp Korean chilli flakes or regular chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp sugar

For the Main Ingredients

  • instant noodles 1 - 2 packets
  • spam or frankfurts sliced into 2-3cm pieces
  • Korean rice cakes (ttkeok) sliced or cylinder version
  • fresh kimchi
  • cabbage roughly chopped
  • enoki mushrooms base removed, separated into small bunches
  • tofu sliced into small cubes
  • cheese sliced or shredded

Instructions

  • If you're using Korean rice cakes (tteok), place in a bowl and cover with hot water to soften them first while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

For the stock:

  • Add all the stock ingredients into a large frypan, wok, fondue hot or hotpot, mix together over low heat. 
    Bringing gochujang broth to the boil in a medium sized electric frypan.

To assemble:

  • Layer your main ingredients in the pan (in artful sections, or mixed in all together - it's totally up to you!)
    Adding rice cakes to Korean army stew, along with ramen noodles, frankfurts and enoki mushrooms.
  • Turn up the heat and layer everything with generous amounts of cheese. Cook on high heat until ingredients such as noodles and frankfurts are cooked through. 
    Sprinkling grated cheese over the top of Korean army stew ingredients, simmering in gochujang based broth.
  • Serve your Korean Army Stew just how you like it - either hotpot style in the middle of the table and allow everyone to help themselves, or dish out into individual bowls.

Video

Notes

Tips

  • If you have a hotpot, fondue pot, or an electric frypan like us, this dish is fun and easy to cook on the table, which makes it perfect for friends to enjoy delicious food and fun conversation! But you can also just as easily cook it on the stove and dish out into small individual bowls. 
  • In the below recipe we've included quantities for stock ingredients, but not for the main ingredients. This is because it really depends on how much you want to cook (and/or how hungry your friends are). You can easily prepare as much or as little as you like, and add more ingredients to cook as you go if your friends are still hungry or completely, totally, hopelessly addicted.

 

FAQs

  • Can I prepare Korean Army Stew ahead of time? It's possible to prepare the stock separately and heat it up when you're ready to eat. But we think this stew is best when prepared fresh and cooked immediately. That said, once all the main ingredients are eaten, we often reserve any remaining stock and reheat it along with extra noodles and other fresh ingredients to enjoy as leftovers the next day. 

 

Variations & Substitutes

  • If you can't source gochujang, you can make a paste out of regular red chilli flakes mixed with sugar and a dash of soy. (Use 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes for every tablespoon of gochujang required).
Note: This recipe was inspired by Korean Army Stew by My Korean Kitchen

Nutrition

Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 827mg | Potassium: 447mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 613IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 302mg | Iron: 2mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Budae Jjigae Korean Army Stew Recipe - A satisfying, cheesy hot pot full of enoki mushroom, kimchi, tofu, rice cakes and even frankfurts! | wandercooks.com #budaejjigae #koreanfood #armystew #koreanarmystew

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Chelsey
    12/11/2019 at 3:33 pm

    5 stars
    Wow I love love all of the wonderful flavors you have going on in this Korean stew! Definitely a perfect soup on a chilly winter night!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      19/11/2019 at 2:06 pm

      SO good when it’s cold. 😀

  • Reply
    Anita
    12/11/2019 at 3:15 pm

    5 stars
    I love making a hot pot when having friends over. No need to cook and everyone always has such a wonderful time cooking and joking around. 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      19/11/2019 at 2:06 pm

      Exactly! We’re similar. It’s also great when you share it, as it’s usually a good topic of conversation with those trying new flavours or ingredients for the first time.

  • Reply
    Beth
    12/11/2019 at 3:13 pm

    5 stars
    I am all about the spicy foods right now and am always looking for new recipes to try! This looks incredibly good! Trying this ASAP!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      19/11/2019 at 2:05 pm

      That’s awesome Beth – for a spicier version, just up the chilli flakes and gochujang paste in the base sauce. 🙂

  • Reply
    Candice
    12/11/2019 at 3:03 pm

    5 stars
    I love a dish that can feed an army… and this one has so much incredible flavor! I had never heard of it before, but it was so easy to make, and we all loved it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      19/11/2019 at 2:05 pm

      This is great Candice, so glad you enjoyed it. I love that you can mix and match with the veg or meat in it too. Let us know if you try any variations!

  • Reply
    Elaine
    12/11/2019 at 2:42 pm

    5 stars
    I really like those ingredient shots – they look sooo goood! And I guess it’s time for me to explore a bit more of the Korean cuisine – this stew looks unbelievable!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      19/11/2019 at 2:04 pm

      Cheers Elaine! This one is a great dish into the entry of Korean flavours – I tried it out with my family, and they loved it! The sauce base tastes like a slightly spicy tomato sauce, and with the cheese on top, my brother thought it tasted like hot dogs when eating the sausages haha!

  • Reply
    Lucya
    04/05/2019 at 7:56 pm

    5 stars
    I have some friends coming over this week, and I think I will make this! Delicious!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      07/05/2019 at 11:35 am

      Oh fun! You’ll have to let us know how it goes. Love sharing this with friends. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Molly
    10/04/2019 at 3:24 pm

    5 stars
    I made this tonight for the family and it was seriously delicious! Everyone loved it.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      07/05/2019 at 11:37 am

      Amazing! Thanks for the feedback. It’s a cracker to have with a group, and there’s always plenty for everyone to eat. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jane
    06/02/2019 at 11:13 pm

    5 stars
    Oh boy, that looks SO good! And the photos are just perfect, I want to dip my chopsticks right in!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      15/03/2019 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks Jane! That cheeeeese am I right? ????????????

  • Reply
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    06/02/2019 at 10:29 pm

    5 stars
    This looks so delicious and so flavourful! I definitely need to give this recipe a try.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      15/03/2019 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks Bintu, hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Danielle Wolter
    06/02/2019 at 10:22 pm

    5 stars
    this is just one of my favorite things ever. I absolutely love making this at home – it’s so comforting and perfect for winter and it has tons of flavor!! Spam is my favorite meat to use 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      15/03/2019 at 4:02 pm

      I know right, so warming and spicy, it’s like the ultimate comfort food – especially with all those chewy rice cakes (my faaaaaaav).

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Debono
    06/02/2019 at 10:19 pm

    5 stars
    This is such an interesting and unique recipe! Love the idea of cooking it at the table. Have to try that!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      15/03/2019 at 4:02 pm

      Hope you do Jacqueline! It’s surprisingly easy to pull together and especially fun to cook on the table with everyone.

  • Reply
    Cliona Keane
    06/02/2019 at 9:19 pm

    5 stars
    I’m always looking for new and exciting Asian recipes to try and this looks right up my street! I love how many flavours and ingredients you’ve included, whilst keeping it simple and delicious!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      15/03/2019 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks Cliona, this one ticks all the boxes for us too!

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