Atten-shun! If your dinner fare is looking a little lazy tonight, whip it into shape and make some budae jjigae instead. Better known as army stew, this spicy soup was first cooked up during the Korean War. At a time when meat was scarce, it made use of American army supplies like spam and canned hot dogs, throwing them into a steaming pot of soup with hot pepper paste (gojuchang) and kimchi. A perfect international mix of a dish, and nicknamed army stew as it was often found being served up near army bases.

These days the dish includes a variety of other ingredients including instant noodles, American cheese, baked beans, macaroni and seasonal veg. The absolute must-have ingredient is, amusingly for us Brits, spam. The bargain-bin meat is considered to be much classier in Korea, as the BBC have even reported.

If you’re in Korea, finding the dish is easy enough, but the city of Uijeongbu is the best place to head. This city is home to many army bases and has an entire street dedicated to the dish.

Here’s a nice simple video recipe for making it at home. Don’t forget the spam!

Bonus: watch Infinite making it old-school style on an outdoor stove (English subs by Infinite Updates)


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British writer and editor living in Japan. Currently studying Japanese, Korean, K-pop dance, and the fine form of 이성종's legs.