As one of the most iconic Korean dishes, army base stew, or budae jjigae, has a colorful history. In the aftermath of the war, American servicemen and troops were stationed in South Korea to prevent invasion. Resourceful Koreans had heard that these bases had a surplus of canned meats that often ended up in the garbage. These meats, like ground beef, Spam, hot dogs, and ham, were picked up and put into a spicy stew.
In this episode of K-Town, host Matthew Kang tries an exemplary version of this now-classic stew at Dallas’s Dan Sung Sa. Today, budae jjigae shows up on Korean bar menus and restaurant menus around the world, but its unique history as a “trash” dish is a reminder that Korea, despite its current prosperity and place in the world, was once ravaged by war, and remains in an uneasy political situation to this day.
Click here for more episodes of K-Town | Like Eater on Facebook to never miss a video