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One of the best meals writers—together with most of our common contributors—have one factor in widespread: they’re the kind to tear right into a pizza or crack a can of Spam with the identical gusto and appreciation as they sit right down to a 12-course tasting menu. They’re eager to the truth that culinary hierarchies are bogus—and that consolation fare and fast residence cooking are each bit as pricey as probably the most opulent, chef-driven meals. 

New York Occasions employees author Eric Kim is reduce from this identical fabric, as seen in his marvelous new cookbook, Korean American: Meals That Tastes Like Dwelling. In it, he explores conventional and time-consuming Korean dishes together with ganjang gejang and seolleongtang, in addition to his personal fusiony weeknight innovations—assume meatloaf-glazed kalbi and buttery gochugaru shrimp with grits—impressed by his Atlanta, Georgia, upbringing. 

I’ve a specific affection for this ebook as a result of, earlier than the Occasions snatched him up, Kim was a contributing editor at SAVEUR and one in every of my all-around favourite folks to work with. He’s additionally only a hell of a cook dinner, so when he requested me to check recipes for this venture, I leapt on the likelihood to spend just a few months consuming his fantastic, unpretentious, and completely scrumptious meals. My favourite dish of the bunch? His belly-warming budae jjigae, a so-called “military base stew,” loaded with each Korean and American pantry staples like Spam, Vienna sausages, gochujang, kimchi, immediate noodles, and (sure) American cheese. I begged him to let me share the dish with our readers as quickly because the ebook launched. 

Nicely, it’s out on Tuesday, and also you’re in luck. Learn extra about Kim’s private connection to this storied dish and discover his recipe within the excerpt under.

–Kat Craddock


A method to think about budae jjigae, or “military base stew,” is as an amped-up kimchi jjigae—a effervescent hodgepodge of components like kimchi, Spam, scorching canine, noodles, and American cheese, a cultural by-product of leftover army rations after the Korean Conflict. In actual fact, each time I make kimchi jjigae, the leftovers inevitably transmogrify right into a extra scrumptious and extra complicated budae jjigae over the week, as I slowly add components to it, refreshing it every time with a brand new thinly sliced onion and a “contemporary” smattering of Spam. I like the best way the previous Spam has soaked up all of the kimchi juices (whereas additionally making the fiery broth additional flavorful with its fats and salt) and the best way the brand new Spam breathes life into the jjigae once more. For me, budae jjigae is kimchi jjigae in its ninth life. 

However with its wealthy and complex conflict historical past relationship again to the Nineteen Fifties, budae jjigae isn’t celebrated by everybody. It’s no surprise that some older generations of Koreans don’t love this dish, whether or not they see it as a blot on the nation’s historical past, a remnant of conflict trauma, or a recurrent reminder of onerous instances when meals was scarce. In 1940, Bangseop Kim, my grandfather on my father’s facet, fled what would change into North Korea for Seoul in South Korea. He lived his entire life recognizing that he had simply skirted a nationwide division that might outline Korean id without end. In line with my father, Bangseop by no means ate canned meats like Spam, Vienna sausages, and even immediate ramyun noodles—not to mention the sum of those components, budae jjigae. Perhaps as a result of it reminded him an excessive amount of of a world he thought he had escaped.

Years later, my mother and pa, much less immediately affected by the trauma of that conflict, would go to varsity and order budae jjigae at eating places, the place it was fairly costly. Even at the moment, they nonetheless take into account it a luxurious meal. As a result of right here’s the factor: Regardless of its thrifty countenance, to make this stew requires the acquisition of a slew of the grocery store’s most costly canned meats. Folks don’t understand that Spam can value upwards of 4 to five {dollars} relying on the place you’re buying. In America particularly, Spam has a wrongfully déclassé popularity, which was tough for me as a Korean American who grew up contemplating it an excellent consolation meals, a hyperlink between two international locations I straddle. For context, in Korea, folks reward big packages of Spam. However for each dangerous factor, there’s a great factor: For my grandmother Hyunseok, who lived by the Korean Conflict and married early to keep away from turning into a consolation lady for the Japanese Military, budae jjigae tells the story not simply of hardship and ache, however of resourcefulness, as effectively. It tells the story of my grandmother’s survival.

In the end, then, budae jjigae is, for my household and me, a celebration stew. 

Republished from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Images copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Printed by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random Home.

Get the Recipe

Budae Jjigae

Get the recipe > Republished from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Images copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Printed by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random Home



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