Since I didn't get the chance to eat budae jjigae when I was in Seoul, I sought it out when I returned to New York City. Or rather, the opportunity conveniently landed in my lap when a friend said, "Hey, we should go to Pocha and get their budae jjigae."
The story behind budae jjigae, or "army base stew," is that it came about after the Korean War. Due to the scarcity of meat, Koreans took surplus U.S. Army foods such as hot dogs and Spam and incorporated them into a spicy gochujang-flavored stew. Even though there's plenty of meat to go around today, this hearty fusion of Korean and American ingredients continues to be a popular dish. It's certainly easy enough to make at home, but it's even more fun to go to a dive bar/restaurant in Koreatown with a bunch of friends and eat it there.
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