Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Budae jigae: One of the first Korean fusion dishes

When I was teaching in Korea some friends told me about this famous stew called Budae Jigae, which roughly translated means, "Military Soup." Everyone prefaces the description by saying, "It sounds horrible, but," which is a fair assessment. When food was scarce in the Korean War period people improvised and came up with this fusion soup of traditional Korean red pepper broth and added the hot dogs and spam that were readily available. It takes something like this to make me touch Spam with a ten foot pole, but I have to admit, this is pretty good food. The items below are fairly standard, but people have been known to add bulgogi, baked beans and rice cakes. If the idea of spam and hot dogs is too horrifying, one variation is to omit those and use a can of tuna. This is basically called chamchi jigae, and is also very good. It sounds strange, but it is a nice dish. Serve it over rice of course.

3 tablespoons Korean soup stock mix
3-4 cups water
2-3 tablespoons gochujang or more if you like it even spicier
2 hot dogs sliced up
2 slices spam
2 green onions chopped up
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 or 2 packages of ramen noodles
bean sprouts
leafy vegetable like kale
kim chi, of course

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