Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Budae Jjigae (부대찌개)

FYI, I've got a much prettier, updated version of this recipe, if you're interested.

Budae jjigae ("army stew/soup") is a dish that originated back in the early 1950s during the Korean War. Food was scarce so people made this dish with what they had: spam and hot dogs from the US Army. It's usually a spicy soup and these days, if you order it in a Korean restaurant, you'll find ricecakes, ramen noodles, pasta, tofu, ground beef, beans, even cheese, depending on the place.

Personally, I like to make my budae jjigae with kimchi jjigae as the base and then I add in hot dogs (or spam, never both because the result is always too salty for me), ramen noodles, ricecakes (dduk), and anything else that might sitting in the pantry that sounds good.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 cups cabbage kimchi, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup water (approximate)
1/2 lb tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 package of ramen noodles
handful of glass noodles (dangmyun, 당면, sweet potato starch noodles)
2 hot dogs, sliced (I like Boar's Head skinless frankfurters because they're less salty and have a better texture but your favorite brand of hot dog is fine; you could also use Spam in addition or instead)
handful of rice cakes (oval kind)
Start by placing kimchi and water (enough to submerge the kimchi) in a pot and placing over medium heat to bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the kimchi is a bit translucent. You'll also notice the colors will go from a vibrant bright red to a slightly more dull maroon-ish color as it cooks.

Meanwhile, you can cut up the tofu and hot dogs into whatever size pieces you like.
Once the kimchi jjigae base is ready, (1) add in glass noodles (2) add in hot dogs (3) add in tofu and (4) spoon soup over the tofu to allow it to soak in the flavor. (5) Add in the rice cakes (6) add in the ramen and (7) make sure the ramen gets submerged in the broth so it can cook. (8) My pot was too small for all of the stuff I added so I had to remove the tofu pieces to make room for the ramen but once the ramen was submerged, I was able to put the tofu back in the pot. At this point, crank the heat and allow the soup to start rapidly boiling.
Serve immediately while it's still bubbling for the ultimate table presentation.
And, because I'm still a child at heart/palate and can't take food that's too hot (in temperature), I like to dole out small portions for myself so they can cool before I dive in. If you're serving to guests (rather than casually to your family) it's a good idea to serve each person his or her own portion. And when you do, make sure everyone gets a little bit of everything!

Here's the recipe page:

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