Sunday, June 21, 2009

Korean Budae Jigae (Army Base Soup)

Okay, before you decide to skip this recipe because of its interesting combination of Korean and American ingredients, let me tell you how this wonderful soup dish came about. It all started in early 1950's, when Korean War broke. Many American soldiers were sent to Korea to fight. You can imagine how poor Koreans were at the time of the war. There were many people who were dying of hunger. As American soldiers were throwing away their leftover food, such as sausages, ham, baked beans, etc, many poor Koreans picked them up and threw them in their soup. A little sad to think that many of these poor people had to eat someone else's leftover food to survive, but the soup they created is definitely unbelievable. You might think sausages and ham shouldn't belong in soup, especially in Asian soup, but it is a very well known Korean food that everyone enjoys nowadays. My husband wasn't sure about it at first, either, but as soon as he tried a bite, he couldn't stop eating it. He even took some to lunch to work the next day.


Soup Ingredients
  • 1 onion, sliced or diced
  • 3 bulbs of green onion, chopped
  • 2 zucchinis, halved and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (If you don't handle the spice very well, I'd skip it.)
  • 6 tablespoons of baked beans/pork and beans
  • 3 Frank sausages, sliced
  • 1 small can of spam, sliced
  • firm tofu, halved and sliced
  • 2/3 cup of well fermented kimchi (You will find one at any local grocery stores, usually the same place you'll find tofu)
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 can of beef broth
  • 1 uncooked ramen

    Paste for the Soup

  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons of korean red pepper flakes (or 1-2 tablespoons red crushed pepper)
  • salt and pepper
In large, deep saute pan (preferably an electric one, so you can cook it over at your table), place all the soup ingredients, except chicken broth, beef broth, and ramen. In small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the soup paste and mix well. Place the soup paste in the middle of all the other soup ingredients in the saute pan.

Turn the heat to medium high and pour in the chicken broth and the beef broth to the pan. Bring it to a boil.
When the soup boils, place the uncooked ramen in the soup and stir until it is cooked. Serve with rice.

Slightly adapted from Tasty Meals at Home


  1. Thanks for the background to this dish.

  2. How interesting! I've had this dish before in Korean restaurants and have always through it was a bit bizarre. Great to know where it comes from.

  3. I love 부대찌게! I also add anerican breakfast sausage. I take some off and roll it into meat ballas.

  4. Wow breakfast sausage sounds good! Thanks, James!