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Junkfood

Budae Jjigae aka Korean Military Stew

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The Skinny: I consider Budae Jjigae to be Korea’s stone soup and I love it. It’s a stew that came about during the Korean War when people used whatever they could find to make something with a lot of calories to burn.

I usually go to Toe Bang (3465 W. Sixth St. Los Angeles) in Korea-town for my fix and it costs about 20 bucks an order.  I first started going to Toe Bang at an age where I should have been carded, but never was.  It’s been kind of a Zen thing when I eat this communal hot pot of mystery meats and sodium induced broth.  I really need the atmosphere to be a certain way to really enjoy the experience of raising my own blood pressure through consumption.  When Toe Bang first opened, it used to be made up of a green canopy, lawn chairs, and metal patio tables.  Now it has wood furnishing all over with flat screen TVs and heat lamps keeping customers warm due to the main seating area being outdoors, and outside is where you want to be.  Add some Korean Euro-trash techno music, soju, and some red faced lightweight Koreans yapping in the background…and you have the perfect Budae Jjigae atmosphere.  It’ll make you feel like you’re in another country…like Korea!

However, things have changed a little bit too much at Toe Bang.  Instead of being able to cook the Budae Jjigae at your own table with your own little gas powered hot pot, they cook it before hand and just serve it to you; and that just kills the fun.

So now, I just cook it at home and with my friends….but it isn’t the same as going out and having it in Korea-town where people still smoke indoors.

Recipe:

* 2-3 cans of Swanson’s chicken stock
* half an onion sliced up
* some sliced up spam
* some hot dogs sliced up
* some burger patties rolled up into tiny balls the size of your thumb
* Firm Tofu
* green onions sliced up
* vegis like bean sprouts, cabbage, and enoki mushrooms.
* Sliced rice cakes
* Korean Red Chili Paste
* Chrysanthemum leaves which is a must. They come in bundles.
* A portable Hot Pot, electric or gas powered. The bigger, the better.
* Nong Shim Neoguri Udon – Ramen with some thick ass noodles.
* and Soju!….Chamisul to be more specific.

It’s not really rocket science as to how you bring it all together. There’s no set amount of ingredients because after all, it’s a military stew. You just start heating up the hot pot, add the sliced onions and pour in some chicken stock. When it starts getting hot, take 2 big spoonfuls of red chili paste and stir it into the pot until it becomes thick with red.  When it begins to boil, that’s when you add the mystery meats, tofu, sprouts, and Chrysanthemum leaves.  Then at the very end, add the ramen noodles and green onions.  Serve it with rice, kimchee, and shot glasses full of soju…and you’re set to go.

– MJ