Also known as “Army Base Stew,” budae jjigae is a mixing pot of ingredients from both the Korean and American pantry. This savory stew was invented in the 1950’s shortly after the Korean war and during a time of food scarcity. The surplus of processed meats (such as Spam) from the U.S. military bases were added to pots containing traditional Korean vegetables and seasonings to create a fortifying meal.
The dish has evolved in the past half-century, but the spirit of budae jjigae is very much alive with cooks from the home to the professional kitchen adding ingredients to the stew based on items that are readily available in their pantries. We love making this dish because it is low effort – just some basic knife work and a few minutes of stewing time before a delicious meal is ready!