Korean Army Stew For The Soul

Spicy soup, tangy kimchi, luncheon meat, cheese, instant noodles — there’s everything you could possibly want in this crowd-pleasing Korean Army Stew.

Budae Jjigae (say ‘buh-day chee-gay’), or army stew in Korean, is said to have originated soon after the Korean War. As food was scarce, civilians began smuggling food out of abandoned American military bases, which included tinned produce like Spam, sausages and processed cheese. When faced with these unfamiliar ingredients, Koreans — like any good Asian would do — added plenty of spice and their own unique twist, and budae jjigae was born. Think of it as liquid kimchi amped up with all sorts of tasty junk food. 

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Though the ingredient list is long, this savoury stew is really easy to whip up — and we did it all in the kitchen to save time. So you don’t have to fiddle with a portable stove. Just slice and assemble everything in a pot, mix up the sauce ingredients and pour it in, then let the fire do the rest. When everything is bubbling up, add slices of cheese and let it all melt into a velvety blanket. As delicious as it is Instagram-worthy.    

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Korean Army Stew

Serves 2 - 4

Main ingredients:

150g luncheon meat, in 5cm x 0.5cm slices

2 chicken or pork sausages, sliced diagonally

4 rashers bacon, cut into 1cm strips

3 pcs tofu, sliced 1cm thick

100g enoki mushrooms

5 shiitake mushrooms

½ cup chopped kimchi

4 stalks spring onions, thickly sliced


1 tbsp Korean chilli bean paste (gochujang)

1 tbsp Korean chilli flakes (gochugaru)

1.5 tbsp mirin

2 tsp light soy sauce

½ tbsp minced garlic

½ tbsp sugar


3 cups chicken stock

½ cup Korean rice cakes, sliced

1 packet instant noodles

2 cheese slices (try President burger cheddar)


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  1. Arrange main ingredients in a shallow pot.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients till well blended. Add this to the middle of the pot.
  3. Pour the chicken stock into the corner of the pot.
  4. Place the pot over medium heat and close the lid. Bring to a boil, about 10 mins.
  5. Remove the lid, add the rice cakes, simmer for 2 mins, then add instant noodles and cook for another 3 mins, uncovered.
  6. Place the cheese slices on the surface of the stew and remove from the heat. Serve immediately. 

Photos & video: Ealbert Ho 
Video editing: Christopher Khong


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