It didn't take too long for the waiter to set up the gas stove and pot of ingredients for our Budae Jjigae. Without knowing the origins of this dish, our first impression was that the ingredients are cheap. It is pretty much a stew made with ham, sausage, baked beans, kimchi, tteok (rice cake), Enoki mushrooms and assorted vegetables. The chilli paste was added at the bottom of the pot, giving the soup base a fiery red color as the stew boils.
Budae Jjigae (army stew) is a post-war creation, interestingly using smuggled surplus foods from the U.S. army bases operating during the Korean war. Food was scarce after the war - the poor civilians who lived near the army bases were resourceful enough to turn the scrounged food, often comprising processed meat into a palatable stew.
Our stew turns out to be deliciously packed with flavors! We waited until we were done with all the ingredients before adding in the instant noodles to soak up the flavors.