Food - Drink
Budae Jjigae: The Korean Army Base Stew That Became A Comfort Food
By KATHERINE BECK
Budae jjigae is a South Korean dish where the East seems to meet the West, and the stew may include Spam, hot dogs, tofu, kimchi, green onion, instant ramen noodles, and more. The dish's name translates to "army base stew," which is fitting, since it originated during the Korean War, but it is still enjoyed as a comfort food today.
Budae jjigae was born out of necessity; since the Korean War created a deficit of food, especially meat, Korean citizens bought what they could from U.S. military bases, even leftovers that would have been thrown away. They combined Korean ingredients with American cheese, Spam, hot dogs, and more to make budae jjigae.
After the war, Koreans had to turn to the black market to get American processed foods for budae jjigae, after the Korean government passed import laws that made it difficult to get such items. An important component of budae jjigae, Spam, wasn't legal in South Korea until a company there began to produce it in the 1980s.
Now that import bans have been lifted, many Koreans make budae jjigae whenever they please by slicing ingredients and cooking them all in one pot. There are variations, but the stew almost always contains kimchi, hot dogs, Spam, ramen noodles, tofu, and rice cakes, and diners may eat it directly from a pot on a portable burner.