They say necessity is the mother of invention and this stew is a sterling example of that sentiment. Budae jjigae (army base stew) was created in Uijeongbu, an hour north of Seoul, soon after the Korean War when food scarcity led starving Koreans to concoct a meal using food that was discarded or handed out at US military bases.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (75 votes)

The Koreans added the unfamiliar ingredients, like Spam, hot dogs and baked beans, into a traditional spicy soup flavoured with gochujang, Korean red pepper paste, and topped it with a square of melted American cheese.


  • 200 g minced beef
  • 100 g thin rice noodles
  • 200 g can Spam, drained, cut into 5 mm-thick slices
  • 2 American hot dogs, cut into thirds, scored widthwise
  • 250 g firm tofu, drained, cut into 5 mm-thick slices 
  • 200 g small shiitake mushrooms, trimmed
  • 220 g can baked beans
  • 1 cup kimchi (see Note)
  • 2 litres (8 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 small leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes 
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 120 g packet ramen instant noodles
  • 2 pre-packaged cheese slices
  • sliced spring onions, sliced chillies and bean sprouts, to serve



Gochujang sauce

  • 70 g (¼ cup) gochujang (see Note)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp powdered fermented soybeans (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 5 minutes

To make gochujang sauce, place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Combine beef and 1 tbsp gochujang sauce in a small bowl and marinate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook rice noodles according to packet instructions. Drain.

In a large casserole pan, arrange Spam, hot dogs, tofu, mushrooms, baked beans, kimchi and beef.

Place chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a rapid simmer. Stir in fish sauce and remaining gochujang sauce. Gently pour hot stock mixture over ingredients in casserole pan (taking care to keep arrangement intact), cover and simmer gently over medium heat for 15 minutes or until beef is just cooked.

Add leek, onion and ramen noodles (without seasoning mixture from packet) and push gently to submerge in broth. Cook, uncovered, for 6 minutes or until noodles are cooked. Turn off heat, place cheese slices over the centre of the stew and stand for 5 minutes, or until melted. Scatter with spring onions, chillies and bean sprouts.

To serve, divide rice noodles between bowls and top with stew ingredients and liquid.



• Kimchi is from Korean food shops.

• Gochujang is a Korean red pepper paste and is available from Korean food shops.

• Powdered fermented soybeans are from Korean or Asian food shops. Substitute with tamari, a sweeter alternative to soy sauce, from supermarkets and health food shops.


Photography by Chris Chen. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Food styling by Justine Poole.


As seen in Feast magazine, August 2014, Issue 34. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.