mom's korean army stew recipe

How to Make Mom’s Budae Jjigae – Korean Army Stew Recipe

Budae Jigae or 부대 찌개 literally means army base stew, and it’s such an easy recipe that anyone can make it. We like to make it at home when we have a group of friends over and treat it like a hot pot night.

It’s not a particularly healthy dish, and since my husband is watching his cholesterol per the doctor’s recommendations, we only eat this at most once a month.

mom's budae jjigae korean army stew recipe

What is Budae Jjigae or Korean Army Stew?

Korean Army Stew was born after the Korean War during a time of post-war impoverishment. They took whatever ingredients they could scrounge from US military bases along with Korean staple ingredients and threw them all into a stew. Even though people considered it “poor people’s food,” the recipe stood the test of time, and you can find it at many Korean restaurants as a popular bar food.

Mini Korean Language Lesson

  • Budae (부대) – Military camp
  • Jjigae (찌개) – Stew
  • Guk (국) – Soup
  • Tang (탕) – Formal way to say soup
  • Jeongol (전골) – Hot pot that’s cooked at the table
  • Anju (안주) – Food that’s consumed with alcohol
  • Gosohada (고소하다) – it has umami

Technically, you prepare jjigae in the kitchen and it can be either shared or a single serving. Jeongol on the other hand is prepared hot pot style and cooked at the table. At restaurants, you will see budae jjigae and budae jeongol used interchangeably. But make sure you ask about serving size. I haven’t seen single servings of budae jjigae at any of the Korean restaurants I’ve been to.

Other popular stews include doenjang (miso) jjigae, kimchi jjigae, and soondubu (tofu) jjigae. That’s our short Korean language lesson for today.

Mom’s Budae Jjigae – Korean Army Stew Recipe

Recipe by Grace LeeCourse: MainCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



This easy Korean army stew recipe (Budae Jjigae) is a stew that anyone can make. Just throw the ingredients in a pot and simmer.

Army Stew Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced kimchi, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup chopped green onion

  • 2 cups enoki mushroom

  • 1 cup oyster mushroom

  • 1/2 cup sliced spam (we used 25% less sodium)

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 hot dogs, sliced

  • 1/2 chopped tofu from an 8 oz package

  • 1 cup rice cake for tteokguk

  • 1 ramen (optional)

  • 1/4 tsp Dashida (optional, it has MSG)

  • 1-2 tsp Korean pepper paste

  • 2 tsp soy sauce

  • 2 Tbsp Korean pepper powder

  • 3 Tbsp soju or rice wine

  • 1-2 Tbsp minced garlic

  • 1 Tbsp Korean plum extract (or 1/2 Tbsp sugar)


  • Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  • In a large pot, arrange the vegetables, mushrooms, and meat as desired with the sauce on top.부대 찌개 레시피 - Mom's Korean Army Stew Recipe
  • Add 4 cups of rice water (saved water from rinsing rice, read mom’s notes below) and let it boil.
  • Add rice cake and optional ramen at the end so it doesn’t get too mushy.
  • Add salt to taste and serve.

Mom’s Notes + Substitutions

  • When you drain your kimchi, ensure you squeeze out all the excess juice. If there is no fish sauce in your kimchi, you don’t need to rinse your kimchi. Only drain it and squeeze out the excess juice. However, most kimchi you buy at the store will have fish sauce.
  • Add more Korean pepper powder to your sauce if you like the dish spicier.
  • My mom collects the rice water from the third rinse when cleaning the rice. You can use regular water, but it won’t have the same depth or body as rice water. My mom likes to save some rice water every time she makes rice. As long as there’s some starch like rice cakes, it should be okay.
  • You can use any combination of vegetables, mushrooms, or meat you want. This army stew was invented in the military with any food they could scrounge up. It’s usually made with some form of hot dog and spam though.
  • Many people also add baked beans, but we don’t like them in ours.
  • We used 25% less sodium spam, but if you use saltier spam, adjust the soy sauce accordingly so it’s not too salty (1 tsp instead of 2). You can add salt to taste at the end.

If you haven’t already tried kimchi fried rice, check out our recipe here. If you happen to make this recipe and post it on IG, be sure to tag us @momskorean, or you can also follow us for directions on reels.

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