Friday, June 08, 2012
The other day we made a unique Korean stew incorporating the best of Korean and American staples–kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) & Spam and hot dogs. Yes, you heard me right, Spam and/or hot dogs are cooked up along with kimchi and a multitude of other ingredients that make up a dish called budae jjigae, famously known as Army Soup in Korean. This is quite a popular dish that conjures up memories of Korea’s distant past, when the country was devastated by the war and food remained a scarce commodity. Shortly after the war, a surplus of foods like canned ham, Spam, and hot dog varieties from the US Army bases remained, so Koreans simply made them into a traditional spicy soup flavored with gochujang (red chili pepper paste). McDonalds and Burger King are common fast food fixtures for the young today in Korea, but budae jjigae has remained a nostalgic and sentimental dish that is favored among the elder generations. Although we made this dish specifically for our food blog, we thoroughly enjoyed throwing in whatever ingredients that literally lay around in our fridge and pantry. In the more a traditional stew, you will most likely find a good dose of sliced Spam, hot dogs, kimchi, rice cakes (tteok), ramen noodles, and a few green varieties. But as long as there’s canned ham or Spam along with kimchi, you can say that you’ve eaten Army Soup.
Servings: 4 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25~30 minutes
1. Bring a large pot to a boil (about 6 cups of water) and place kimchi and sauce ingredients (gochujang, gochugaru, minced garlic, soy sauce, sugar, and diced onion). Boil for about 10 minutes to soften the kimchi and enrich the broth.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the meats by cutting them into desired pieces. Add the pre-cut bacon and hot dog (Spam if available) and cook for another 10 minutes. Follow that with the instant ramen noodles and wait until noodles separate on their own.
3. When noodles have separated, taste the broth of the stew and regulate according to taste preference. This might be too spicy for some so reducing the red pepper paste and flakes or adding extra water will help alleviate this problem.
4. Serve immediately before noodles soften and set at the center of the table where everyone can help themselves, or plate individually into separate bowls. Eat with rice and banchan side dishes.
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