War Time Food

부대찌개; Bu-Dae-Jjigae; Hot Pot Stew.

The sniffle weather is encroaching! I’m happy to say there wasn’t a ginseng root in sight to be forced down.

The other day I attempted to make us a big batch of kimchi jjigae to stop the sickness in its tracks. After adding carrot to the mix I decided it had to be changed lest I hear that I’m out of touch with kimchi soup making and to not fix something that isn’t broken (cue cheeky smile). It was then converted to Budaejjigae; a delicious hot pot of mish-mash everything and anything you can find/ feel like throwing in. A bubble and squeak of sorts. Except not.

Below is my recipe for you to enjoy, but first a quick review of Bu-Dae-Jjigae and my first time. The first year of living in Korea I never ate it; the pictures of dripping, spam loaded pots with beans put me off and the name sounded funny (many a delicious meal missed out on from that thought process alone… a loss indeed). My sister insisted I eat it just once as it’s one of her favourite dishes. We were in our last month of our second round of living in Korea when we finally got round to chowing down.

Wanting to thaw our bones after a four-hour winter bus ride back to Seoul from Wonju (traffic), we went immediately to 놀부부대찌개NolBu BuDaeJjigae, underground in the Express Bus Terminal.

What a warm comforting pot of greatness!

Budae Jjigae’s history is steeped in war, when there wasn’t enough food to go round; the American army bases would give out their rations of Spam and sausages and the Koreans would mix it with any other ingredients they could find. To stretch it further, fermented paste and water was added to make a soup/ stew. Nowadays it is enjoyed by Koreans as a revered dish.

At 8,000₩ a head, this loaded meal is sure to appeal to everyone!

The hotpot arrived at the table and was placed on the fire while a few side dishes were laid out. The usual suspects, pickled radish and kimchi were there, along with sticky sweet beans and little, teeny tiny fish.

The rich, salty broth bubbled away and mixed with the red pepper paste creating a hearty spicy soup that worked wonders immediately in warming us up.

Sliced sausages, tofu, spam and ham crowded the pot (in a good kinda way) and swirled around with garlic, onions, beans and greens. Macaroni bubbled to the surface a quarter way through and then the noodle cake was added. Did I mention the plastic cheese that melts through everything?

Behold, pictures of the delicious slop!

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Here is how I made ours, it has a few steps. All easy I promise.

Firstly prepare your basic stock mix by boiling together a piece or two of dasima 다시마 and anchovies( keep these tied in a bag and put away at the back of the freezer to curtail stink). Strain, set aside and grab your large soup pot. Now that you’ve done that, let’s go!

You’re going to need:

Sesame oil and seeds


Kimchi and kimchi juice

Garlic, minced

Ginger, minced

Onion, sliced

Carrot, sliced

Perill leaves (sesame leaves)

1 TBSP maesil (Japanese apricot extract)

Spring onions, sliced

Chili, sliced

1 pkt Korean noodles (orange packaged one) with half of the seasoning sachet

Tofu, cut into cubes

Spam, cut into cubes

eggs, whole (one for each person)


Add sesame oil to your large soup pot. Fry the first six ingredients together until kimchi becomes softened/ changes colour. Add the maesil and perilla leaves, stir for a minute then just as everything starts to stick to the bottom, add your magically prepared stock on hand. Cover, place on a low heat and simmer for 15 minutes, add extra stock if needed. After 15 minutes, add your spam and tofu and boil, covered, for a further ten minutes. Add chili, spring onions and drop your eggs gently into the pot. Either swirl to break it up or leave it to have nice big chunks of egg. Three minutes prior to serving, add in the noodle cake and half seasoning sachet. Crank the heat back up to cook the noodles for three minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds,  eat and enjoy!

Do you like BudaeJjigae/ make your own? Please share your recipe in the comments below.


Happy eating,

Chan and Bob




3 thoughts on “War Time Food

  1. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE BUDAEJJIGAE!!! I don’t like processed meats, so like you I was kind of put off by it at first, but then I had some, and I was hooked. It’s now one of my favorite foods. I haven’t had it in a few years, and suddenly I’m missing it so much thanks to these amazing photos. Are those from Korea or did you find a place in AUS?

    Liked by 1 person

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