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Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)

Yet another lazy weekend and I'm craving some "junk food". I conveniently have luncheon meat, ramen and baked beans in my pantry so let's make Army Stew!

According to good ol' Wikipedia, "the dish was created shortly after the armistice that ended the Korean War, using the scrounged or smuggled surplus foods from U.S. military bases" - it really explains why so many preserved ingredients are used in this dish! Before we start worrying about the amount of sodium and preservatives in this stew, let's get cooking!


Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)

Difficulty: ⭐⭐

Serves: 3-4 pax

Cook & Prep Time: 45 mins prep (only 20 minutes if you're not cooking the pork belly)

Ingredients: Soup Base (shortcut lazy version)

  • 200g pork belly

  • 8 cups of water

  • 1 cube of chicken/anchovies bouillon

  • 1 cup kimchi

  • 1 tablespoon gochujang

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

*If you're willing to put in extra effort for a more flavourful broth, ditch the bouillon cubes and make the broth from scratch using dried anchovies/chicken bones/dried shiitake mushroom. You should also add hot pepper flakes for spiciness - mine was kid-friendly with just a hint of spiciness from the gochujang and kimchi.


  • Sliced cooked pork belly (from making the soup base)

  • Half a can of Korean Luncheon Meat or SPAM

  • 1 sausage (ideally Polish sausage if you can find it)

  • 1 small can of baked beans

  • 1 pack of instant ramyun

  • 1 slice of processed cheese

  • 1/2-1 cup kimchi

  • 1 pack shimeji mushrooms (or any type of mushroom you prefer)

  • Few stalks of spring onion

  • Tong Ho vegetable (I didn't have napa cabbage so this was my substitute)

Other ingredients commonly added include cabbage, onion, firm tofu, bacon, and sweet potato starch noodles.

Ingredients for Korean Army Stew
Ingredients needed

Cooking Directions :

1. Place water and pork belly in a pot. Leave it to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes for a deliciously tender pork belly. If you're not cooking any fresh meat, skip this step.

Boiling pork belly for soup base
Boiled pork belly

2. Remove the pork belly and add other "Soup Base" ingredients to the pot. Leave it to simmer over medium-low heat for at least 10 minutes until you're ready to serve. If you're not using any fresh meat, you should taste the soup base and add more chicken/anchovies bouillon necessarily (bearing in mind that the stew ingredients will add more flavour later).

Soup base for Army Stew
Soup base done!

3. Slice the spring onion, sausage, and pork belly. Wash the mushroom and vegetables. Open the canned baked beans. Super easy prep is done.

Prepared ingredients for Korean Army Stew
Prepped ingredients for stew

4. Assemble all the ingredients in a shallow pot except for the cheese & vegetables (If it's a hard vegetable like napa cabbage or cabbage, you'd want to arrange it at the bottom of the pan as it'd take the longest to cook). You can either serve this in a steamboat pot, or in a pot on a portable stove.

Assembled ingredients for Korean Army Stew
I'm using a steamboat pot - not the most shallow but it'll do

5. Add just enough of your soup base to almost cover your noodles. Cover and let it bubble away for a minute.

Korean Army Stew before cooking
Ready to eat in a few minutes

6. Add your cheese and leave it to simmer for another 1-2 minutes. I added my vegetable towards the end as I like it with some crunch.

Ready to serve!

Noodles in Korean Army Stew
Be sure to eat the noodles first before they overcook.

For those who haven't tried Budae Jjigae, you might find the combination of breakfast ingredients with ramen noodles to be odd. But take one bite and you should instantly fall in love with the savoury and spicy flavours!

The stew will get thicker as it bubbles away so add more soup base whenever it gets too dry.

Till the next cook, stay safe & makan well!

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