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A Budae-jjigae Party


Budae-jjigae, a.k.a. Korean “Army Base Stew”. Image courtesy of Maangchi.com

I’m going to start this post by honestly saying, I rarely eat SPAM®, except on occasion for the experimental fun stuff worth blogging about (or at least I think it’s worth it lol). However, with the fever of the Waikiki SPAM JAM upon us, happening exactly a week from now, I’ll bite (again), as you’ve seen in my last post about the soon-to-be-released SPAM® Portuguese Sausage flavor.

And with that whole buzz, I came across this incredibly fascinating Korean-American fusion dish called Budae-jjigae, which translates directly as “Army Base Stew”. Literally “Budae” meaning “Army Base”, and “jjigae” meaning “stew”. Why it’s hyphenated as “Budae-jjigae”, I don’t know. Then again, how exactly do you spell “Meat Jun”, a.k.a. “Meat Joon”? Or “Kim Chee”, a.k.a. “Kimchi”. Whatevahz. As long it’s mashi-e-sseo-yo, who cares!

According to Korecipe.com, this is the deal: “Budae Jjigae can directly be translated to “Army Base Stew.” The dish originated from Euijeongbu just a few miles north of Seoul during the Korean War. Food was scarce in Seoul and people starved to death. Fortunately enough, Euijeongbu was where many U.S. Army bases were located. People who lived around the bases gathered leftover canned sausages and Spam from U.S. Army facilities and combined them with whatever ingredients they were able to find. All ingredients were boiled with water in a large pot into a spicy soup flavored with gochujang (red chili paste) and kimchi. A funny side fact is that Budae Jjigae is also known as “Johnson Tang” named after former American President, Lyndon B. Johnson.”

OK, you heard that, right? “Canned sausages and SPAM®”. In a Korean stew. Not only that, but there’s also a GAZILLION other ingredients that goes into a stewing hot pot of Budae-jjigae!

According to the incredible Maangchi, who is originally from South Korea and now living in New York City, here’s her take on what goes into a pot of authentic Budae-jjigae…

BUDAE-JJIGAE INGREDIENTS:

For the stock:

For the seasoning paste:

For stew:

  • ½ pound pork belly (or pork shoulder), cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 ounces of sweet potato starch noodles, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1 cup worth cabbage, cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ of a medium onion, sliced
  • 2 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup fermented kimchi, chopped
  • 4 ounces of Polish sausage, sliced
  • 4 ounces of  spam, sliced thinly
  • ½ of packaged instant ramyeon
  • 1 cup worth radish sprouts (or spinach, watercress, arugula)
  • ½ cup worth tofu, sliced (Optional)
  • ¼ cup canned baked beans (Optional)
  • 12-16 sliced rice cakes (Optional)
  • 1 slice of American cheese (Optional)

That’s all I’m going to copy-paste from her awesome website all about Korean cuisine, where for the complete recipe on Budae-jjigae, please visit Maangchi’s web page here!

Preferably, if you’re so inclined to go beyond just reading the recipe, please watch this AWESOME, completely adorable Budae-jjigae cooking demonstration YouTube® video by Maangchi herself!…


Buddae-jjigae main ingredients. Image courtesy of Maangchi.com.

Notice Maangchi also incorporates Pork & Beans and American Slice Cheese, along with the Polish sausage and SPAM, really underscoring the “Army Base” into this otherwise Korean stew. Now THAT is something I must try!


Korean “Army Base Stew” toppings, including instant RAMEN!!!??? Crazy, right?!!! lol Image courtesy of Maangchi.com.

While it’s essentially a leftovers one-pot “peasants dish”, making Budae-jjigae can be somewhat complicating and lengthy in process, as illustrated by Maangchi. On the plus side, it’s clearly very flexible, where yourself can make it as simple or complex as you like, depending whatever you have in the kitchen, and what time you have to make it.

I’m so fascinated by this Korean wartime stew that actually has the b@lls to have SPAM® in it, that I posed the question to my fellow Honolulu Yelpers yesterday, asking where to find Budae-jjigae on Oahu, and so far, these are two responses I got:

Lynn L. – “Chogajib on keeaumoku is pretty good. Also remember to take a few people with you as budae-jjigae is not meant for one person.”

Cin T.“It’s more of a nostalgic comfort food type of stew. My friend’s grandma calls it her special “kitchen sink stew”, lol.

I never order it because it’s way overpriced and something I can make at home. But there’s a few places that serves it:
1) Yakiniku Don Day: We got it on the house a few times, so I’m not sure on the price.
There are a few pics posted by other yelpers you can check out.
yelp.com/biz_photos/yaki…

2) The Day The Princess Pig Craves A Drink/Princess Pig Cafe charges $20 for theirs.
yelp.com/biz_photos/the-…

3) Uncle Sim’s on Keeaumoku charges $35. Way overpriced. I hear they use luncheon meat instead of spam too. yelp.com/biz/uncle-sims-…


Budae-jjigae, a.k.a. Korean “Army Base Stew”. Image courtesy of Maangchi.com

All I know is, whether at a restaurant or homemade, as awesome as it looks and sounds, I am SO trying Budae-jjigae!


Emily “Maangchi” Kim, YouTube’s Queen of Korean Cuisine! Image courtesy of marina-kim.com.

36 thoughts on “A Budae-jjigae Party

  • April 25, 2015 at 8:57 am
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    I’ve used Maangchi’s recipes with very good results a couple of times. I also just enjoy watching the vids. The Army Base Stew looks pretty damned good! I gotta tell ya, I LOVE gochujang. I’ve always got some in the fridge, and usually just put a large dollop on the side of a plate of freshly steamed rice with some kimchi. Maangchi’s helped my efforts at making authentic tasting kimchi immensely. I have a feeling that Korean food is in for a big popularity explosion on the mainland, not unlike Thai and some others have had in the last 20-30 years.

    Reply
    • April 25, 2015 at 9:33 am
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      BigyBoyChan,

      Next time you visit Hawaii, look for PARKS BRAND Kim Chee Sauce. The ingredients are: chili pepper, water, garlic, fish sauce (mackerel extract and salt), sugar, MSG, paprika, salt and ginger.


      Parks Brand Kim Chee Sauce. Image courtesy of HonoluluStarBulletin.com.

      That’s the preferred brand for many local spicy Korean style recipes, including the famous “Chicken Alice” Korean style chicken wings.

      Reply
      • April 25, 2015 at 10:52 am
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        My fridge has Parks Ko Choo Jang.  Same thing. Makes a good sashimi or pipikaula dip Shem mixed with shoyu.

        Reply
      • April 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm
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        When I first moved to Hawaii, one of the very first places my kama’aina buddy took me to was Chicken Alice’s. I remember how delicious those wings were. I think they were called “Famous KH Wings” or something like that. I also remember the bar atmosphere and the hostess girls who always appreciated if you’d buy them a drink. A very expensive drink. I took my brother-in-law in there to pick up a box of wings, and a couple of gals sat down right next to him… I thought he was going to… let’s just say it was unexpected and kind of freaked him out a bit. I took all of my mainland visitors there for Alice’s chicken, or at least to get take out. I have very fond memories of it.

        Reply
  • April 25, 2015 at 10:48 am
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    That is one hell of a dish. Cheese? Makes me think of food prepared at a hunting camp by drunks that are really hungry.

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    • April 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm
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      They probably were drunk on Soju when making this. How else could those old school Koreans at the time stomach eating SPAM. I mean, you gotta’ admit, Budae-jjigae is a dish that looks like someone totally hammered out of their mind concocted at 3am in the morning, after a “long, long night”. LOL!

      Reply
  • April 25, 2015 at 11:13 am
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    Pomai,

    Budae Jjiggae. Brings back a lot of memories of living in Daegu as a youngster.

    In all the time I lived there, I never had Budae Jjiggae. I knew of it, but never had it. Because Omoni did not like SPAM. Hated the stuff. Me too. The only one who ate SPAM was my father. And our dog. She loved SPAM.

    I used to get grossed out and giggle at the same time whenever I’d watch Dad trying to shake out the pink, lumpy looking, gelatinous hunk of strange meat out of the can. He would make farting sounds while doing it, and I’m going, “Uggghhhh Daaaaaaad! (wrinkling my nose) You are so GROSS! How can you eat that stuff? That thing looks and tastes NASTY! Dad: What are you talking about? SPAM is ono, it’s cheap, goes with everything, you know. Like chicken. Me: You’re still gross, Dad.

    In Hangul, Jun is spelled J-E-O-N. And it’s kimchi, not kimchee, though Koreans prounounce it as “gimchi.” Or galbi. Maybe it’s because Koreans cannot prounounce the letter K? Like the Japanese can’t prounounce L, R, and V? (Probably some phonetic thing, I don’t know.)

    The jun/jeon I like the most is (the Korean name for it escapes me), but it’s made with shiso peppers stuffed with seasoned ground pork, battered and fried. Dipped in the spicy shoyu dipping sauce that comes with it. Never liked Meat Jun growing up.

    Look forward to reading your verdict on Booty Jiggy (that’s funny, must remember that!). I know of one Korean restaurant where I live (Vegas, Baby!) that has Budae Jjigae on their menu. Took a haole friend from Iowa here and was almost going to order it. But it was her first time (ever) eating Korean and thought to go easy on her, so I ordered Galbi, Japchae, and Soon Dubu Jjigae, extra spicy. She loved all of it, thankfully.

    Reply
    • April 25, 2015 at 4:04 pm
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      Meant Korean peppers, not shiso.

       

      Reply
    • April 25, 2015 at 4:11 pm
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      Lalena,

      Wow, as always, fantastic, very thorough response! I checked out  Daegu (a.k.a. Taegu) on Wikipedia and see it’s the 4th largest city in South Korea, with about 2.5 million people. The density level is also extremely high. Dang, just that city alone is way more populated than all of Hawaii! Must be something in the Kimchi they’re eating. lol

      If you go back and watch that Korean SPAM eating video by Simon And Martina, when their server removes the “meat” out of the last can of SPAM Bacon flavor (fast-forward to 7:00), it makes this really gross, wet farting sound, and Martina’s expression is PRICELESS. lol

      I’ve seen Kalbi spelled Galbi in a few restaurants here, but never Gimchi. Most locally-made Kim Chee brands is spelled as such, “Kim Chee”. If you read food articles in the local newspapers that involve it, most journalists will spell it “Kim Chee”. I’m not saying that’s correct, but probably just how most are familiar with spelling it here in Hawaii.

      Yup, there’s some Korean restaurants here that name Meat Jun, “Meat Jeon”. Speaking of which, some Hawaii expats living around the mainland have claimed in their neck of the woods, you CANNOT find Meat Jun/jeon on the menu in Korean restaurants, thinking it must be a “Hawaii thing”. Have you seen Meat Jun/Jeon served in any Korean restaurants around LV?

      Yeah, I don’t think your Korean restaurant “nube” would have appreciated Budae-jjigae as their introduction to the cuisine. I remember going to this one Korean takeout joint and ordered their Sundubu jjigae, and the owner asked if I wanted it “hot”, which I said casually, “OK, hot, that’s fine”. BIG MISTAKE. That Korean man was not kidding by “hot”. He meant SCORCHING HOT! Like frickin’ GHOST PEPPERS HOT! I just could not handle drinking more than 1/4th of the broth in that tofu stew, ending up just fishing out the tofu and veggies and calling it quits. Whew-wee!

      That said, as I recommend to BigBoyChan, next time he’s in Hawaii, pick-up a jar of the Parks Brand Kim Chee Sauce. Well, I just tried a little dab on a spoon a few hour ago, and WHOAH! That suckah’ packs a spicy punch, too! That’s why everytime I go to Korean restaurants now, I always tell the Korean lady serving us when ordering my dish, “No spice-eh. No hot. No spice-eh”, in an attempted Korean accent. And they get it. Never got “surprised” at the table.

      Reply
      • April 27, 2015 at 12:20 am
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        Anyong Haseyo, Pomai!

        Loved living in Taegu/Daegu, best time of my life. It is a densely populous city, right next door to Pusan/Busan, Korea’s largest seaport. (We’d go there to buy fresh fish for sashimi every New Year’s. Bring your own platter and you pick out what you want and the fishmonger slices it and plates it for you.) Besides my beloved Omoni, the things I miss are:

        1) Taegu Apples (Think Fuji apples, but better tasting, super crisp and juicy, and bigger than a baseball. Huge! But oh so ono. It’s now sold in Korean markets where I lived in the Bay Area, and around here in Vegas, but it is takai!

        2) The deep, dark big @ss purple grapes. It’s called “pahdo.” Had lots of seeds and tough outer skins, but so sweet and juicy. Every afternoon the neighborhood fruit peddler would come by carrying loads of grapes and various fruits in his wagon, yelling “pahdohhhh!” “Sagwhaaaaah” (Korean for apple) and whatever other fruits he had.

        3) The food and shopping. Always an adventure going to thrice-weekly food shopping with Omoni to the open arcade. The smells of various food stalls, (noodles, bibimbap stands, some joint where they served boiled organ meats, BBQ, butcher, etc.) the vegetable and fruit stands. The chicken man. She always bought fresh chicken, never packaged. And da buggah was FRESH! Like just killed and cleaned up fresh. And Omoni’s good friend, Negi Oma (Onion Mom. You guessed it, she sold nothing but green onions, leeks, and onions. Oh, an beautiful satin and silk fabrics). Never knew her real name and she didn’t speak English, but she always had sweets for me. They would talk story while I wandered around the different clothes and accessories stalls.

        4) And Omoni’s cooking. Good gawd that woman could cook!  And her kimchi. Never fish sauce in the kimchi paste; always shrimp paste or fresh squid (blech!), and grated Asian apple pear (you need sugar for kimchi to ferment), the way southern Koreans made kimchi. (It’s fish sauce in Northern style (Seoul) kimchi.) And super hot and spicy. Like beads of sweat hot dripping off your forehead, but you eat it anyway because it was just delicious.

        But the best kimchi is still winter kimchi, where you store freshly made kimchi in large earthenware vessels and bury it in the ground for the winter, so you always have kimchi on hand. I mean, there would be a national crisis if there was no kimchi in Korea! Omoni would dig up the earthenware pot, remove the lid and scoop up kimchi, cover it and throw dirt over it. Tasted so different from conventionally prepared kimchi. Plus won bok is at its peak (sweet, super crispy) during the late fall/winter months.

        Me, I prefer to eat it right after I make it, when it’s crunchy like a salad. Homemade kimchi is a labor intensive process, but so worth the effort. I can’t eat store bought kimchi. The one exception I do make is Palama Market’s kimchi when I’m visiting home and burned out from eating every meal out. Pretty good kimchi, but I like my own better. I’m also fond of oisobagi kimchi (stuffed cucumber kimchi) and mul kimchi (water kimchi). Very rarely have I seen these kimchis served as banchan at Korean restaurants on Oahu. I’d stick with the restaurants on Kapiolani since it was walking distance to where I was staying, but I see that there are a bunch of Korean restaurants on Keeamoku now. Or is it Koreamoku Street? Need to explore the restaurants there.

        Oh geez the look on Martina’s face! That was ME when Dad cooked with SPAM! Priceless! I think he would make those farting noises just to make me laugh. (Because dads do those kind of things for their kid.) I can still hear that wet fart sound, too. Gaaaahhhh! Still cracks me up til this day, although I don’t eat SPAM.

        Very true about Meat Jun. It is a Hawaii only dish. I’ve never seen it on any restaurant menus in Korea, both in Seoul and Daegu and thereabouts. Or on the mainland.The first time we moved to Daegu, Omoni took us to her favorite restaurant there. Dad asked her to order Meat Jun and Taegu. She gave him a strange, quizzical look. So he described to her what these two dishes were. Didn’t register. We had bulgogi, japchae, and doenjang jjigae. One of the banchans I remember was Taegu. So he points it out to her and she says, “Ohhhhh, Daegu-po!” Yep, Taegu is called Daegu-po in Korealand. Don’t like Taegu, either. (If I got $1.00 for every food I don’t like, I’d be rich! Yeah, that many.)

        Going off on another ethnic cuisine, you can’t find Gau Gee Mein in California. Nope. This is also a Hawaii only dish. The closest thing that came to it was a dish I used order at my favorite pake restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Yuet Lee’s Seafood Restaurant) called Panfried Noodles with Seafood. It had everything but the gau gee. The first time I ate in Chinatown when I moved there in 1987, I ordered Soft Gau Gee Mein. The waiter looked at me like I was from another planet.

        Luckily, there’s a restaurant here in LV  called Wo Fat’s. It’s the only Hawaii style chop suey place in this town. The soft gau gee mein is good for what’s in Vegas, but better back home. Can you believe these guys have the nerve to charge an extra $1.10 for cake noodle??? No joke. Annoying, but must have cake noodle.

        Wish Kin Wah in Kaneohe had a restaurant here in Vegas. Gawd I miss that place. Wo Fat’s would be so out of business if that happened. And the wait staff at Kin Wah that speak what I call “Chinee’ style restaurant Engrish.” Took everything to keep a straight face as I ordered. (You like Sof Gau Gee Meh? No fly gau gee meh? Wih kek noodoo, yah? Or something like that.) Then I’d hold my stomach and just start silently laughing, my head on the table, tears out of my eyes cracking up. That and McCully Chop Suey. Read that that space is some fancy schmancy art gallery now. Sigh.

        You know, I was watching Maangchi’s video on Army Base Stew and I noticed that she uses pork kielbasa and pork belly instead of hot dogs and bacon. And ramen/ramyun (whatevs same t’ing). That’s the beauty of this dish, you can vary it. Obviously SPAM is a must. I just can’t justify spending $25 on this dish at a restaurant. I mean a dish with canned and processed meats in it? I can see if say, Wagyu beef slices were added to it with a big drizzle of truffle oil, then yeah, I may order it. I’m thinking of making this at home one day…after I’ve quaffed a bottle of champers. Just can’t get over my aversion to SPAM! I was wondering how the shiru would taste after boiling the whole thing to death. Would the shiru taste bland? Me, I think I’d save the seasoning packets from the ramen just in case for a flavor injection. And drizzle some goma abura before serving and a healthy amount of coarsely ground fresh kosho just because. (Koreans top every cooked entree with goma abura, it seems.)

        Never used Park’s Kimchee sauce myself, but I know it’s a key ingredient in Chicken Alice’s Fried Chicken Wings (Best. Chicken. Wings. Everrrrrrr.) Was so bummed when she closed shop, almost in mourning. I have a copy of the Star Bulletin article that has her recipe. I’ve not seen Parks Kimchee sauce in the Bay Area or Vegas, but I understand it’s readily available Asian markets in Gardena and Torrance. A lot of Hawaii expats there, too. Not my kind of town, however. Because no can get gau gee mein ova deah ha ha, among other things.

        It’s OK that you no can handle spicy food, Pomai. (Pats you on the shoulder). It is an acquired taste. You’re soul is Nihonjin, and our people are not too keen on spicy hot food. (Like my family and relatives. Total wimps when it comes to spicy. They freaked out when I was eating sliced fresh jalepenos doused in shoyu with rice. Yeah, people, it fuels my temper (just kidding!)) You still ROCK :-)

         

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        • April 27, 2015 at 7:51 am
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          Anyong Haseyo, Lalena,

          Hey, I just learned a new word! “Hello!” right back at ya’. :-) You know what’s funny about that is, my mom and aunties are Korean soap opera JUNKIES. I’m talking, that’s ALL they watch on TV from morning to night. Crazy. However not one of them have barely learned a lick of Korean language. In fact, sometimes they’ll turn the volume down and just read the subtitles. Drives me BONKERS! If I were to call my mom up right now and say, “Anyong Haseyo!”, she would tell me “Pomai, what the hell are you talking about?!” I’d be like, “Sigh”.

          Anyways, I remember seeing Taegu Apples at Marukai, and yes they were pricey, IIRC about $4 each. Don’t recall ever seeing “Pahdo” grapes.

          Funny that you mention the “Chicken Man” and the “Onion Lady”. We had a fun discussion over that topic in the post titled “Friendly Neighborhood Manapua Man”. Reason that came about is, Diner E told me about his younger years  growing up in Kalihi, where his neighborhood had a “Vegetable Man”, a “Fish  Man”, a “Slop Man”, a “Milk Man”, and so on, and so forth.

          Watch Maangchi’s video on making authentic Korean Kimchi (how she spells it). Looks to be as hardcore as it gets, save for not burying her earthenware pot in dirt, only because she lives “in the sky” in NYC.

          Maanchi does take the very last pieces of Kimchi she makes after putting the rest in the earthenware pot and makes this crunchy banchan dish out of it. That looked exceptionally good!

          OK, so it’s pretty safe to say by now between you and several other folks here that Meat Jun/Jeon is in fact a Hawaii thing, hard to find, if not impossible outside of the islands. It’s not like in the past when I went traveling abroad I was on the hunt for Meat Jun, however now I’ll keep that in mind!

          Interesting that you can actually get Cake Noodle in LV, albeit only at that one place. I believe some places here also charge a little extra for Cake Noodle. But yeah, supposedly Cake Noodle is also is a “Hawaii only” thing.

          I didn’t know you were a Kin Wah regular. Did you live in Kaneohe or the windward side at one time?  And  yes, I know all too well about the thick Chinese accents of the servers there, poking fun at them all the time here. Hey, that’s part of the experience!

          Back to “Army Base Stew”, I’m no Korean Jjigae expert, and was wondering since you mentioned it, is there a version of Jjigae that uses high end incredients such as what you suggested? Pretty much the same dish, except, instead of canned meats, bacon, and for GOD’S SAKE, Pork ‘n Beans, having fresh-sliced Wagyu, lobster, king crab and other high-end ingredients? I figure ask you first before I go Googling for it.

          As for the Park’s Brand Kim Chee sauce, after tasting it straight-up, I think as long as your palate can remember its flavor nuances, it could be easily duplicated using another brand and doctoring it up, or better yet, making it from scratch.

          I find a lot similarities between Japanese and Korean cuisine, with the key differences being mostly the use of sesame oil and heavy implementation of hot spices in Korean cuisine. If the town I lived in had just one or the other, I’d be OK with that. Fortunately, Honolulu has way more Korean and Japanese restaurants to choose from than I think we have cellphone towers. lol

          Reply
          • April 27, 2015 at 9:14 am
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            Anyong, Pomai!

            Pamogo so? (Have you eaten yet? A greeting, if you will. Like how us Japanese ask, Mo tabetta or gohan tabetta? Or, You wen eat aw’ready? You hungry? Such food-centric people, we are! I know of no other ethnicities that would talk about what to eat for lunch and dinner…while eating breakfast. Sigh.Gotta love’em.)

            I love all things Korean but cheesy soap operas? Never. Mind numbingly boring for me. Omoni would watch it sometimes, but she wasn’t obsessed. However, I am into Japanese doramas. Love them. Can’t get Japanese programming here without having to pay extra for it. I noticed when I was home about three years ago, KIKU sharply limited their Japanese programming from all fricking day to a couple of hours at night? The channel is all KOREAN programming!

            Maangchi makes kimchi the way Omoni made it, almost. Omoni being a southern woman, it was always shrimp paste or fresh squid if she could get it. And heavy on the gochigaru and garlic because it’s the South, where they like things spicy as a mofo. Worked great for me, not so much for the old man. Omoni would rinse some kimchi with water to tone down the spiciness for him. Wuss.

            Wo Fat is owned and run by a Chinese guy who used to own and/or work in Chinese restaurants on Oahu. He charges extra for cake noodles because he has it flown in from the islands. (I asked.) That’s my only reason for it. But I could’ve sworn you can find local style cake noodle that’s manufactured in Torrance or Gardena somewhere now. (I think it’s the same noodle company in Hawaii that opened up a manufacturing plant in California to supply the demand. Again not for certain.)

            A certain haole boy from Kailua I used to date turned me onto Kin Wah. (I lived in Wahiawa, Kalihi, Hawaii Kai, Nuuanu, Makiki, and Waikiki before I left home for the SF Bay Area, and now Vegas.) Promised me that it was the best pake food on the island. Must say the boy was right. And other friends would also suggest Kin Wah as their go-to for good Chinese. No, I never lived on the Windward side. I liked going there, but it’s a little too sedate for me (save for the weather). But if I maybe (big maybe here) ever live in the islands again, I’d like to live in Manoa Valley or Kaimuki (love the restaurants upon restaurants there. My kind of town!).

            Yeah, I noticed that I’d have a hard time getting a cell signal in Honolulu. A lot of dropped calls (may be ’cause it’s AT&T?) But tons of Japanese and Korean good eats, that’s for sure. Where Japanese restaurants are owned by Japanese and Korean restaurants are owned by Koreans! Here Japanese restaurants are mostly owned by Koreans. There is one (and only one) Japanese restaurant (Japanese owner) I go to because the food is like what I’d get in Honolulu. Plus they have the best and freshest looking Toro nigiri. Man I can inhale Toro like no tomorrow. Expensive, but worth it.

            The suggestion of adding Wagyu beef and truffle oil was my idea. (Not that I’d do it, come on, what a waste of premium meat and luxurious oil! I’d grill the Wagyu, top it with a little truffle oil and eat it before I’d add it to Budae Jjigae!) You would never find luxurious ingredients like THAT in Budae Jjigae. This is a poor man’s/woman’s dish, something your Omoni or halmoni (grandma) would make at home with surplus American sliced cheese and processed meats that your nice GI neighbor gave you. Like I said, I can’t make myself pay $20 some odd bucks for a simple dish like this at a Korean restaurant. (Pork ‘n Beans, I know! What the h*ll? Hate it. I have cousins who eat it cold straight out of the can.) BUT…if it was gussied up with Wagyu niku or lobster or even scallops were added, I would probably order it. But what a waste of lobster and scallops. And Wagyu. SMH.

          • April 27, 2015 at 10:10 am
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            Anyong, Lalena,

            Ha ha! That’s always my mom’s line when people come over the house, “You hungry? You like eat? Come, come, come inside! Go eat!” Real da’ ‘kine “Aunty Aloha”. :-)

            You know what’s funny about the Korean Soaps is, my mom SWEARS they’re the BEST ACTORS and ACTRESSES in the world, way, WAY better than American actors and actresses. Yet I always try to tell her, “Mom, it’s only because you can’t understand a word they’re saying!” How can you tell how well an actor is if you can’t understand them? I mean, yeah, they cry a lot, which seems to be a huge thing with Korean soaps, but “best actors”? I dunno’. What do you think, Lalena?

            Yup, KIKU really changed their format, I think because Joanne Ninomiya doesn’t have control of the station as much if at all anymore. She was a big force behind KIKU-TV, going way back to my Kikaida days! I used to like watching reruns of Soko Ga Shiritai, however haven’t watched it in a while. What I also miss from KIKU is their uniquely subtitled episodes of the adult anime hit, Crayon Shinchan. Damned naughty keed! lol!

            “Liked things spicy as a mofo”… ha ha! I like your style! You’re fun. ;-) And yeah, like your old man, I’m a “wuss” when it comes to spicy hot.

            What do you mean, he flew in cake noodle from the islands? Isn’t cake noodle just regular chow mein noodles that are baked or wok-cooked until crispy underneath? I didn’t know it was some special type of noodle.

            Ah, your ex-BF took you to Kin Wah. OK, we’ll leave it at that. lol

            Wow, you really were a “gypsy” on Oahu, from Wahiawa, all the way to Hawaii Kai. I actually like the Kapahulu area, just below Monsarrat off Diamond Head. It’s a nice neighborhood, nearby Kapahulu avenue, which like Waialae, has tons of fantastic restaurants. Speaking of which, since you mentioned Toro Nigiri, if you haven’t been there yet, next time you come home, you MUST check out Ono Seafood on Kapahulu avenue. Hands-down BEST POKE ON OAHU. Period. It’s always made to order, never premade, sitting around getting “cooked” in the shoyu. So fresh, and so ono! And don’t get them confused with Ono Hawaiian Food, which is just down the street on Kapahulu Ave.

            Which speaking of Koreans running Japanese restaurants in LV, we have that here at quite a few Ramen-Ya restaurants, where the owners are Korean, not Japanese. With that, you can tell by the flavor of the broth that they’re “Korea-fying” it. I don’t like that. When I eat Japanese Ramen, it better taste JAPANESE, not Korean. Like there’s this Ramen-Ya near Ala Moana named Taiyo Ramen, where the side dishes to their ramen is Gyoza that’s more like Mandoo, and Kim Chee! WTH? And their Ramen is more like “Sprout Men”, with I swear half the “noodles” being bean sprouts! Ack!

            That said, my current favorite Ramen-Ya in Honolulu is still Goma-Tei in Ward Center. I have yet to taste a better authentic Japanese Tokyo style Shoyu Ramen that beats Goma-Tei here on Oahu, IMO. Yet interestingly, Goma-Tei is owned by a Chinese guy who was partners with a Nihonjin guy who owned Goma Ichi before branching off and starting Goma-Tei. Of course, it’s all who’s the cook and what’s the recipes, not necessarily who’s the owner.

            That’s true, nobody in their right mind would waste steak-quality beef such as Wagyu in a stew. Same for lobster and  king crab, unless it was all just leftovers, then yeah.

            I still think the Buddae-jjigae tableside concept is fantastic, with some more haute, luxurious potential in the dish. Such as perhaps an Italian Cioppioni seafood version, where you keep adding more seafood and wine-infused tomato broth to the stew pot as you eat it tableside over a plate of fancy crostini drizzled with truffle and extra virgin olive oil. Kinda’ like Shabu Shabu-meets-Budae jjigae.

            Hey, I know it’s not targeting you, but any chance you’re getting fed “Beautiful Asian women looking for American Men to date” Google ads on this blog post? I sure hope it’s not just me. lol

  • April 25, 2015 at 12:48 pm
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    Wow, that’s an elaborate Jigae. My mother is Korean, grew up near the US Army bases north of Seoul where she met my father, an American soldier.  My mother made simpler variants of this Jigae, with less ingredients, sometimes with and without Spam, depending on what was on hand in the kitchen. I grew up with the smell of spicy jigae stews wafting through the house. This is a very elaborate Jigae indeed.

    Gotta love Maangchi. I discovered her back in 2007ish when trying to re-connect with my mother’s cooking. She talks EXACTLY like my mom, I was astounded how similar her Korean English accent was, it was like getting cooking lessons from mom :-). I have enjoyed watching her YouTube fame rise over the years.

    Reply
    • April 25, 2015 at 4:37 pm
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      Min,

      You must be very attractive. Asian and white is a very attractive “Hapa  Haole” mixture. Two aunts of mine are half Danish, half Chinese, and they’re both very attractive, even into their 80s. One was a model when she was in her 20s, and was also the women’s clothing buyer/merchant for Liberty House way back in the day.

      Maanchi explains that she went to several restaurants in Korea to experience Budae-jjigae, as even she never tried it before returning to her motherland to do that. So I’m guessing the extensive amount of ingredients is from that combination of places she took notes from. This is obviously a peasants leftover dish, especially obvious when their frickin’ Pork ‘n Beans and Cheese in it. Good Lord, have mercy! lol However as Ken pointed out in his comment, the inclusion of SPAM and canned sausage is what truly gives this dish its name, “Army Base Stew”. Otherwise it’s like any other Korean jjigae, correct? Which I’m actually surprised Hawaii doesn’t have its own take on “Army Base Stew” that includes SPAM in it. At least none I’ve ever come across. I’ve NEVER eaten a stew that had SPAM in it, yet Budae-jjigae will be my first! A-ha!

      Maangchi’s thick Korean accent is absolutely ADORABLE! I LOVE HER! I just wouldn’t want to be around her when she’s pissed off. Oh boy, LOOK OUT! Spatulas and tongs be a flyin’! LOL!!!

      Reply
  • April 25, 2015 at 1:54 pm
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    Pomai,
     
    It seems Budae Jjigae 부대찌개 (Army Stew) is based on what you have at the moment to make the stew but as long as you include canned ham or canned spam or some kind of sausage or hot dog along with kimchi you can basically say you’ve eaten Army stew.
     
    In the following version pork belly was replaced with bacon and Polish sausage was replaced with hot dogs and no beans or spam was used and it seems the instant ramen noodle is used as a timer to indicate when the stew is done cooking.
     
    If you think back to date in time it all makes sense that there is no set recipe because it was based on what you could barter for or scavenge for at the time to feed yourself and family.
     
    This version I found on my go to Korean recipe website: //koreanfoodgallery.com/ which lead me to the following website My Korean Eats.com and recipe: //mykoreaneats.com/2013/07/budae-jjigae-%eb%b6%80%eb%8c%80%ec%b0%8c%ea%b0%9c-army-stew-2/
     
    This reminds me of my years in Vietnam when a care package from home would arrive in mail with canned goods especially my next door neighbor Hammy who was from San Francisco and Japanese-American. We would mix everything together including WWII C rations to make glorious stews and that is where I got my first real taste of fish cake and Japanese food.

    Reply
    • April 25, 2015 at 5:05 pm
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      Ken,

      Man, between you, Lalena and Min, I’m working overtime on responding to some pretty extensive comments here! But it’s all good! I LOVE these types of discussions! It’s one of the biggest reasons I love to read and write about food. The passion people like all of you share about it. :-)

      I take it this is the first time you’ve heard of Korean “Army Base Stew”. Being you served in ‘Nam, do you remember anything similar to this being served there?

      That’s a pretty good recipe you linked to, however the more elaborate take on it that Maangchi presents is much more fascinating, in my opinion. Of course when I attempt making Budae-jjigae in my home kitchen (sometime soon), I’m going to use Hawaii branded Portuguese Sausage in place of the Polish Sausage or Hot Dogs. I’m also going to use the far superior Myojo Chukazanmai dry ramen noodles, as those are REAL ramen noodles, not that cheap deep-fried stuff Maangchi and others use. Other than that, I’ll probably follow Maanchi’s recipe to the T.

      That’s an interesting observation you made about the dry ramen noodles being used as a “timer”. I was wondering why in the heck she put the hunk of dry ramen noodles on the top like that, not even submerged in the broth or covered so it steam-cooks it. Apparently as the pot steams without a lid, and as everything else stews down, eventually the dry ramen noodles get cooked. I would just be concerned about the glass noodles overcooking, however I guess that’s what helps thicken the broth.

      I notice Korean cuisine is often “dynamic”, involving things coming to or cooked at the table actively bubbling, sizzling and steaming hot. I LOVE THAT. That said, it’s interesting how Maanchi instructs to keep a bowl of reserve stock on the side as the pot cooks at a the table, and you continuously feed the pot more stock as the guests eat down the stew. Continuously adding stock must dynamically alter the flavor as it cooks down and reduces. That is just an incredible concept I never seen done before. At least, not done at the table.

      If you like Japanese fish cake and stew, you need to try a dish called Oden, which is well, a Japanese fish cake “stew”. It’s very easy to make at home (see my recipe at the link), otherwise check out Hakkei on Young Street.

      Reply
  • April 25, 2015 at 7:27 pm
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    Pomai,
     
    I didn’t read Lalena and Min comments till after I posted but I like their comments. Like I indicated, you have to put yourself back in time to Korean Peace Keeping Action and what the people had to work with to feed themselves, barter or scavenge for to make a meal.
     
    This is not the first time I’ve heard about Korean “Army Base Stew” as I found the recipes on websites. Last year I went on a Korean food binge eating everything I could get my hands on plus going to Palma Supermarket for supplies. There are two Korean restaurants on the Leeward side so I was golden with old school cooking.
     
    I also did a lot of research on Korean food sites and Maangchi was one of them but I found a couple more that are very good which have the recipe for Korean “Army Base Stew” like Tri Food.com a commercial food and product supplier to Korean restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area that has a fantastic website of English to Korean definitions and Korean recipes: Bu-dae Chi-gae
     
    “Army” Stew 부대찌개: //www.trifood.com/budaechigae.asp
     
    Tri Food Company uses the alternate spelling and keep the recipe simple to what might be at hand but they use spam, hot dogs, bacon for pork belly, Korean Shin ramyun, soft tofu, kimchi, Enoki mushrooms and gochujang. Here again in the recipe details the Korean Shin ramyun is used as a timer to indicate when the stew is done cooking.
     
    I’m not trying to bad mouth Maangchi but one thing I’ve found over the years looking at recipes is every time I get into a recipe from New York especially from the city it always gets pushed way over the top with extra ingredients kinda like New York City Stylized ending up like nothing a regular home cook would cook on a daily bases to serve for family dinner during a war. Martha Steward is alive and cooking in Manhattan!! Maangchi recipe for “Korean Fried Chicken” had me going in circles till I finally found out it is an American made up dish based on Buffalo Wings not served in Korea.
     
    If I am going to eat and cook ethnic dishes from another country I want to learn about what I would be served when I visit that country. I want to understand their recipes and reasons why they are cooked not something Americanized or New York City Stylized! I want to feel comfortable walking into an ethnic restaurant and ordering their food or sitting down at their table sharing a meal with them.
     
    Because Korean “Army Base Stew” is made with gochujang and gochugaru to spicy heat taste and as the stew boils down the heat level rises and concentrates so I can see why Maanchi wants you to keep a bowl of reserve stock on the side to dilute the heat. It is also suggested to serve Korean “Army Base Stew” with white rice.
     
     One of my favorite stews back in Vietnam Hammy and I came up with was WWII C ration canned beans and wieners with Japanese noodles and fishcake. Hey—we never liked bland mess hall food and always cooked our own!

    Reply
  • April 25, 2015 at 9:48 pm
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    Eh Pomai, re. da previous blog. maybe I should consider anuddah line of work since my last great idea was da Edsel.  Wat yu tink, brah?  :lol:

    Reply
  • April 25, 2015 at 11:02 pm
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    @ Keoni – Are suggesting you were on the team at Ford for the “Edsel project”? Assuming your name is John, after reading your comment here, I actually read through the entire history of the Edsel automobile line by Ford on Wikipedia. And the only John I could find was John F. Connors, Jr., Eastern Regional Sales Manager, Newark, New Jersey, where I remember you saying you’re originally from.

    It’s funny what critics said the design of the Edsel’s grill resembled. lol

    @ Ken – Indeed. And I understand your sentiment regarding Maangchi “stylizing” it in over-the-top New York City fashion. At the same time, remember modern day South Korea has come a long way from its wartime era as well, where Maangchi got some of her ideas to make the the dish. And I’m sure even there, Budae-jjigae is subject to being “stylized” by the younger, hip generation who are much more affluent and have much more culinary resources than their ancestors who struggled during the war. Unfortunately, we’re seeing the same thing happening with Japanese Ramen shops today, where some of the modern chain ramen restaurants are stylized way too much.

    What’s incredible is discovering that Emily “Maangchi” Kim is in her late 50’s. That’s insane! I thought she was no older than 30! She looks AMAZING for that age! That “porcelain doll” skin many Korean women have is such a coveted trait, which has me curious if their diet has anything significant to do with it, or is it mostly genes? Same for the longevity of Okinawans.

    A coworker of mine’s favorite potluck dish he always brings to our office parties is simply Pork ‘n Beans, baked with bacon, chopped hot dogs and some brown sugar. One of those dishes someone who doesn’t really cook, can cook. Good with rice (or just by itself), however I can’t imagine eating this baked beans concoction with Japanese noodles and fishcake. I’ll try it next time he makes it. Any tips?

    Reply
    • April 26, 2015 at 2:51 pm
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      Pomai,
       
      I think you well know by now when it comes to foods; I like to keep it simple and first enjoy the taste of the original meal before I tinker with adding things and stylizing it.
       
      Emily “Maangchi” Kim is ONLY in late 50s! Some people age beautifully! My father was in his 90s and people thought he was in his 40s and my brother in his 70s goes out partying with his 20s year old son and has 20 year old women hitting on him. Go figure!!
       
      Pork ‘n Beans, baked with bacon, chopped hot dogs and some brown sugar is standard New England food especially on Saturday nights. I make my own baked beans with salt pork in the pressure cooker. I grew up on Campbell’s Franco American canned spaghetti mixed with onion and ground beef or baked beans with onion and ground beef or baked beans with Portuguese sausage or American Indian succotash mixed with bacon and hot dogs. Those are all comfort foods!
       
      The Vietnam concoction of Japanese noodles mixed with C ration canned bean and franks with Japanese fishcake was just one of the stews we made to stretch food between the two of us.
       
      A good recipe for the office is Jag (Jagacida) that goes over very well in Hawaii with the people I’ve served it to. It is a cross between Cape Verdean and Portuguese cuisine. Basically it is white rice, onion, garlic, kidney beans, bay leaves, paprika and Portuguese sausage mixed together. I’ll make a 6 qt. pot and people will wipe it out!

      Reply
      • April 26, 2015 at 6:47 pm
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        Ken,

        I am now VERY fascinated about Jagacida, a.k.a. “Jag”. Which, as you may have discovered, like many other authentic Portuguese dishes beyond what we’ve already heard of, are OFF THE MAP here in Hawaii. While the dish sounds simple enough, do tell more in much more detail about you, and your Japanese-American Vietnam War bud, Hammy’s take on “Jag”!

        A strange U.S. Army field concoction this one war veteran guy I used to work with “turned me on to”, was crackers topped with a spread of Libby’s canned deviled meat/food/whatever that stuff is!, enhanced with a dash of one of them little bottles of Tobasco Sauce. I tried it, and ironically in a sort of weird way, actually liked it!

        Reply
        • April 26, 2015 at 8:10 pm
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          Pomai,
           
          Jag is very simple as I grew up on it back in RI. I didn’t make it in Vietnam because I didn’t have a large pot to cook rice nor Portuguese sausage. Depending how meaty you want the dish to be dictates how much Portuguese sausage you use but cut sausage across into disks and fry in olive oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot with tight fitting lid setting aside when brown. In same pot sauté chopped onion till soft and minced garlic till fragrant here again quantity depends on how spicy you want to make Jag. Add rice for quantity you want to make and lightly toast with onion and garlic. Add chicken stock for rice quantity (1 to 2), paprika depending how spicy you want to make it and to color rice and 2-3 bay leaves. Cover and cook rice. About 5 min before rice is done open lid; add Portuguese sausage and canned kidney beans; stir to combine and recover to finish cooking. When done fish out bay leaves and serve as one pot meal. For some reason I always add ketchup to my Jag as I eat it and Jag makes great leftovers.
           
           You are talking about Libby’s® canned deviled ham spread which is great on crackers with a smear of mayo same as Underwood® Meat Spreads which makes deviled ham, liverwurst, corned beef, roast beef and chicken; all great on crackers with a little mayo; just like taking a can of sardines and placing a sardine fillet on a cracker with mayo for snacking. Tabasco Sauce will make anything taste great!

          Reply
          • April 26, 2015 at 8:21 pm
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            Ken,

            Excellent details on “Jag”. That whole concept could be applied to the Korean take of Budae-jjigae, if you think deep and hard about applying the same ingredients in said “layered”, step-by-step method. And I bet the Portuguese-American “Jag” version of Korean “Army Base Stew” would totally ROCK!

  • April 25, 2015 at 11:07 pm
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    Thank you for sharing the recipe for “Army Base Stew.” I love the name.

    I have made a number of Korean friends since moving to Hawaii: local Koreans, Korea Koreans, and mainland Korean-Americans. They all tell me Koreans everywhere LOVE spam. One friend told me Spam was her favorite thing about Hawaii. However,

    @Pomai
    My Korean friend who immigrated to Honolulu from South Korea when she was a teen told me that meat jun is, as you suspected, a Hawaii thing. Jun/jeon in Korea is flat and just has a little bit of vegetable or meat mixed into the batter. The batter is never stuffed full of meat (or used to coat meat). So it is a unique local treat!

    Reply
    • April 26, 2015 at 7:39 am
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      Aloha Leslie,

      I checked out your new “Local Color” website, and see you do branding and design work. Nice stuff! I also notice you say you’re not a Hawaii local since you were born in California. However your last name is Kuo, which I assume is Hawaiian, and you look like you have some. Well if that’s the case, and as long as your heart’s in it, as it sounds like it is, I’d consider you Kama’aina, I don’t care if you were born on the moon!  I was going to add your site to my links page, however I see for now it’s mostly a resume of your work. If you start blogging Hawaii lifestyle stuff like art, food, etc., and I’ll happy to add that part of your site to the page. ;-)

      Anyhow, yeah, me too, “Army Base Stew” is really catchy! That’s why I’m surprised we don’t have one here in Hawaii. The closest I can think of is Saimin, which sometimes has (American) SPAM and ham in it, however that’s obviously not a stew. Perhaps we can nickname Saimin “Army Base Noodles”? Hey! There ya’ go!

      I’m kinda’ curious now how the tomato-based “Hawaiian Beef Stew” would taste with cubes of SPAM in it, instead of beef. It might be too salty, I don’t know. It definitely wouldn’t be healthy with that much SPAM in it, unless the veggies totally outnumbered the SPAM in ratio about 3:1, whereas with regular beef stew, it’s about 1:1 (depending who’s making it).

      Interesting how you break down the “type” of Koreans: “local Koreans, Korea Koreans and Mainland Korean-Americans”. I would think that “Mainland Korean-Americans” have a completely different mindset than “local Koreans”. One thing I notice with local Koreans, especially if its the “1st generation”, and even some 2nd generation — and this actually true for most other groups of people who first immigrate here — is they don’t get outside their “bubble”, not trying to learn English, and pretty much stay within their own circle of people. I mean, I totally understand, however at the same time, I think they should try harder to immerse themselves in the culture of their new home. You’re now not just on an island in the middle of the Pacific with a unique mixed culture, but you are also now an AMERICAN. Be proud of that! ;-)

      Regarding Meat Jun/Jeon being a unique Hawaii thing, I’m glad your South Korean friend validated that claim. Whenever I talk about authentic Korean food on this blog, I always bring up Ah Lang restaurant, a.k.a. the “Angry Korean Lady”, where owner Won Lam makes her Chives Jun exactly how you described, with the chives mixed into the batter. It’s more like Chinese Egg Fu Yong if you will. Here’s the “Angry Korean Lady”s Chives Jun…

      Even the beef in her Meat Jun is almost paper thin…

      That thinness makes her Meat Jun SUPER concentrated with the shoyu-based marinade, while being super-duper tender. Definitely the best Meat Jun (and Vegetable Jun from the Chives version) I’ve had in Honolulu, hence the 10-SPAM musubi rating I gave Ah Lang “Angry Korean Lady“. You definitely MUST check her out! Oh, and make sure to take her a bottle of beer. She’ll really take care you well, then! I kid you not! lol

       

      Reply
    • April 26, 2015 at 7:01 am
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      Amy,

      That link isn’t working, and when I tried to relocate it myself, apparently the slider bar doesn’t work, as others have commented.

      Anyhow, I’ve heard several times both personally and on TV from “hardcore” Korean cooks who insist on making their own Kimchi (as its spelled that way). And I said before, as Diner E figured out, the key to really good Kimchi, is that they use fish sauce in it, which gives it this even more earthy, slightly “meaty” flavor profile. You can find that style at Palama Market. They’ve got a REALLY good one!

      On the Travel Channel show, Food Paradise, there was an episode on “deep-fried carnival eats”, and one guy did deep-fried baby back pork ribs. Simple as it sounds, pork ribs dipped in batter like chicken and deep fried. And people said it was AMAZING. So I’m thinkin’ of applying the Chicken Alice gochujang-based recipe to those fried pork ribs. That could be a winnah!

      As for Kimchi itself, it’s truly one of them “mood foods” for me, similar to how I am with Japanese Tsukemono. Sometimes I really crave it, and sometimes I want nothing to do with it. Depends if it’s “that time of month” for me. lol! For realz, though! ;-)

      Reply
      • April 26, 2015 at 7:32 am
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        On web there a few showing Chicken Alice recipe. I will try it out now for I like

        fried chicken. In San Francisco there not anywhere that sell Korean Fried

        Chicken so my cousins will try it also.  That web not hard to find under Kim

        Chee or Chi Sauce recipe.

        Reply
  • April 26, 2015 at 8:30 am
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    I just thought of something after re-reading Ken’s comment. How about a “10 Minute Pressure-cooked Budae-Jjigae“? Simplify the ingredients list and just dump it all in the pressure cooker and her rip for 10 minutes (plus natural pressure release time). I bet it would work! Of course it defeats the whole purpose of it being a “communal dish”, but hey, for a quick one-pot dinner, why not?

    Reply
  • April 26, 2015 at 11:18 am
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    Pomai, since I was a kid thought meat jue, minute chicken, mochiko chicken came

    Asia but invented in Hawaii. No wonder on mainland these food are at time hard to

    find.  What great of it there history and stories behind it. Not Asia ones from mainland

    but only in Hawaii.  Is spam musubi invented in Hawaii?

    Reply
    • April 26, 2015 at 1:27 pm
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      Kelike,

      According to this “Musubi Me, Baby!” blog post, it says, “As the musubi mythology goes, some time in the 1980s a lady named Mitsuko Kaneshiro came up with the brilliant idea to wrap up SPAM and rice in a tidy little package easily eaten with one hand – yet another example of streamlined Japanese design. She invented this delicious snack for her kids, but eventually started selling them out of City Pharmacy on Pensacola Street in Mo`ili`ili, a neighborhood in Honolulu. Legend has it she was soon selling over 500 a day and the trend caught on all over the islands. Now any self-respecting corner store in Hawaii has a stack of SPAM musubi next to the cash register.”

      I can believe that, as I don’t recall seeing SPAM Musubi anytime prior to the 1980s, and remember right around 1988, you began seeing SPAM Musubi EVERYWHERE. It just EXPLODED!

      Same thing for “Hurricane Popcorn”, another fad that I believe began sometime in the 1980s, as prior to  that, I don’t ever remember that being a commonly done thing at the movie theaters. Now it’s standard protocol for Hawaii movie concession stands to sell mochi crunch for folks to add to their movie popcorn.

      Reply
  • April 26, 2015 at 3:25 pm
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    @Pomai and Kelike,

    Here is the Korean version of Hawaii’s favorite Spam Musubi which in Korea it is called Spam Jumuk Bab 스팸주먹밥 (Rice Balls w Spam) and it looks like an upside down Hawaiian spam musubi.

    http://mykoreaneats.com/2014/03/spam-jumuk-bab/

    Makes you wonder!

    Reply
  • April 27, 2015 at 9:55 pm
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    Anyong again, Pomai,
    Ha ha! That’s always my mom’s line when people come over the house, “You hungry? You like eat? Come, come, come inside! Go eat!” Real da’ ‘kine “Aunty Aloha”. :-)
    Only in Hawaii. Funny thing, Katonks are nothing like us Hawaii folks. It’s always, “Hiiiiiiii, how are you?” Never, Did you eat yet? Are you hungry? Weird. Fake Japanese, I tell you! (I’m kidding!) Me: Oh hiiiii! (Hugs) Eh, you hungry? Come inside, let’s grind! 
    That’s it. I’m going to make house at your Mom’s the next time I’m home! I’ll wash the dishes, too.
    I took a katonk friend (she and I happen to be vacationing at the same time) to dinner with the relatives years ago at the old Wisteria Restaurant over on Beretania, was it?Come time to settle the bill, my uncles and male cousins are fighting over the check, throwing money at each other. Here I was, trying to pass some cash over to the uncles and cousins and I’d get scolded. “NO! You no pay, Unkoh Oskah go pay da bill!” Can I at least leave the tip? NO! Put yo’ money away, gawfunni’ No nee’ put yo’ money AWAY! This would go on for several long minutes.
    So katonky friend later asked me, “Is it always like this with your relatives?”  (Nodding my head) “Yes, Debi, it’s ALWAYS like this. Arguing over who’s going to pick up the tab is a sport around here. Battle of the male egos. Never fails to amuse me.” I think it kind of freaked her out a little. 
    You know what’s funny about the Korean Soaps is, my mom SWEARS they’re the BEST ACTORS and ACTRESSES in the world, way, WAY better than American actors and actresses. Yet I always try to tell her, “Mom, it’s only because you can’t understand a word they’re saying!” How can you tell how well an actor is if you can’t understand them? I mean, yeah, they cry a lot, which seems to be a huge thing with Korean soaps, but “best actors”? I dunno’. What do you think, Lalena?
    Pomai, I think I need to take your lovely Mom for Korean food (any where she like, I’ll pick her up!  Grill your own? Yeah, we go, Mama! Jjang Jjang Myeon? Shoots! Jjigae? Bibimbap? Wherever you want to go, Lady!) and talk to her about her obsession with K-dramas. NO, they are HORRIBLE actors! HORRIBLE! They can’t even act their way out of a paper bag, for crying out loud! 
    Yup, KIKU really changed their format, I think because Joanne Ninomiya doesn’t have control of the station as much if at all anymore. She was a big force behind KIKU-TV, going way back to my Kikaida days! I used to like watching reruns of Soko Ga Shiritai, however haven’t watched it in a while. What I also miss from KIKU is their uniquely subtitled episodes of the adult anime hit, Crayon Shinchan. Damned naughty keed! lol!
    OhmygawOhmygawOhmygaw!!! You LIKED Kikaida/Kikaider, too??? MetooMetooMetoo! (Self, stop blubbering you sound like dork!) I LOVED Kikaida. Lurrrrrrrrved the show as a kid! Jiro-san was so hansamu, strumming his guitar. I was always confused as to how it’s pronounced: KikaiDA or KikaiDER? My only brother (older by three years) and I never got along growing up, but watching Kikaida bonded us each week. Where we’d actually stop bickering. Much to the relief of Mom and Dad.
    Not familiar with the other shows you mentioned. The last dorama I watched was “Long Vacation” when I was living in SF in 1995. Hokey, mindless entertainment. Bad acting included. The music was good, though. Protaganist was a classical piano player. 
    “Liked things spicy as a mofo”… ha ha! I like your style! You’re fun. ;-) And yeah, like your old man, I’m a “wuss” when it comes to spicy hot.
    Kamsamnida, chingoo! (Thanks, friend :-) You’re not bad yourself ;-) Plus that’s how I roll, ha ha!
    Look, not everyone can handle spicy hot; Pops didn’t like foods that packed heat. (Heart burn, you know) and that’s OKAY, more spice for me (and Mom! My real mom also loved spicy foods.) 
    I really need to watch my potty mouth. (I AM a classy woman with taste, after all. Dad raised me that way.) I blame my Aunty Yuri (RIP) for my cussing at a young age. Her kids (my cousins) were just as bad as she was. The woman could make a sailor look angelic, I tell ya. Everything was eff dis, eff dat, wat is dis effing (fill in the blank), effing muddah…you get the idea. 
    One time I was at her house, looking in the fridge for something. Happened upon a taped up note to the egg bin, written by Aunty:
    “Eat the f&!@%ng (eff word was spelled out in all caps) eggs in the bin FIRST before opening a new carton!!!
    Dang, Aunty was hardcore, mang! 
    There’s this song by D’Angelo called “Sh*%DamnMo!&)@rf!%$er” that’d I’d listen to years ago. It’s about a guy whose best friend bedded his wife. Strangely the song had a calming effect on me.
    What do you mean, he flew in cake noodle from the islands? Isn’t cake noodle just regular chow mein noodles that are baked or wok-cooked until crispy underneath? I didn’t know it was some special type of noodle.
    No, I don’t think it’s anything like the dried chow mein noodles you find on the mainland. It IS different. Like bagels from NY (must be their water), cake noodle taste different, must be something in the water in Hawaii. Because bagels on the west coast suck eggs! Except for a couple of bagel shops in SF, Jewish owned and operated. And one in Westlake, CA. But here in Sin City? Have not found a good bagel yet. 
    It’s not only the water, but the baking process. A well-known west coast chain called Noah’s Bagels STEAM, then bake their bagels. Bagels are always BOILED, then baked. My bestest friend in Birmingham, AL swoons over Noah’s Bagels. I told her you need to go to NYC and haul your ass down to H & H Bagels. They KNOW bagels.
    Also, I learned from East Coast pals, that toasting a bagel is frowned upon. If it’s made right, you eat it straight up untoasted with a smear/shmear of cream cheese. If you’re Jewish, you add lox, sliced red onion, sliced tomato (noooooooo!!!) and capers on it. 
    Also, did you know that cheese pizza is considered THE pizza in NY? Not pepperoni or a pie/slice with other toppings. Just plain cheese pizza is considered “a slice of pizza” there. My friend Bex (ex-NYC inhabitant / Iowa woman) told me this. This is the noob I introduced Korean cuisine to. Next will be Ethiopian, another favorite cuisine of mine. Might be too exotic for her, so more for me ha ha ha! 
    Ah, your ex-BF took you to Kin Wah. OK, we’ll leave it at that. lol
    (Laughs) Pomai, I was a 22 year-old girl back then, what can I say? Had a thing for cute haole bad boys and surfer dudes. (Females like bad boys, don’t you know that?) 
    Relationship ended when I announced that I was moving to SF. Never heard from him again. Just as well. Barely had half a brain to engage in somewhat intelligent conversations, anyway. Pretty to look at, but a few french fries short of a Happy Meal. 
    Wow, you really were a “gypsy” on Oahu, from Wahiawa, all the way to Hawaii Kai. I actually like the Kapahulu area, just below Monsarrat off Diamond Head. It’s a nice neighborhood, nearby Kapahulu avenue, which like Waialae, has tons of fantastic restaurants. Speaking of which, since you mentioned Toro Nigiri, if you haven’t been there yet, next time you come home, you MUST check out Ono Seafood on Kapahulu avenue. Hands-down BEST POKE ON OAHU. Period. It’s always made to order, never premade, sitting around getting “cooked” in the shoyu. So fresh, and so ono! And don’t get them confused with Ono Hawaiian Food, which is just down the street on Kapahulu Ave.
    Yeah, I bounced around while I lived there. Was searching for an ideal place to live and wasn’t really happy with any one place, except Waikiki. Lived on Liliuokalani Ave in a roach infested one-room apartment for a couple of years before I flew the coop. At least the rent was cheap.
    I agree, Monsarrat/Diamond Head is nice. Walked there many times. Still do when I’m home. Don’t know why I never checked out the food scene there, though. Probably had gau gee mein and comfort food, not fancy sandwiches and what not, on my brain.
    I prefer to stay at the end of Waikiki bordering Kapahulu Avenue, since I eat my way up and down Kapahulu, anyway. Ono’s Hawaiian Food for lau lau. The old Kapahulu Chop Suey next door (I think it’s a different restaurant now) for okay, but greasy soft gau gee mein because I was desperate. Genki Sushi. Waiau Shave Ice. Rainbow’s (best mahi mahi, hands down), Zippy’s. Oh, and how convenient, Napolean’s Bakery! One coconut Napple to go, please! Leonard’s for malasadas. And Irifune (I believe is the name) for garlic ahi. Hee Hing for dim sum. Sekiya’s for okazu. Dined at the old Sam Choy’s Restaurant upstairs from Hee Hing once. Not impressed; the Nimitz location was better. Loved the Seafood Curry at the Nimitz location. Can’t wait to visit Liliha Bakery since they took over Sam Choy’s. Love me some Coco Puffs right about now.
    There’s a couple of ramen places there, too, past Safeway, but both places looked empty when I went so passed on those. Close to Irifune is a small Italian place (forgot the name) and it was packed, but wasn’t convinced that they served real Italian. (Spoiled by fantastic Italian restaurants in SF, so I’m picky.) Side Street Inn for pork chops, love that place.Saw a roach coach/food truck there that I read on Yelp that got good reviews. Wasn’t in the mood for steak, though.
    I think I saw that Ono Seafood last time I was home. But I’d already picked up shoyu poke from Da Pokeman Poke Shop on Kam Highway in little ol’ Wahiawa, where I was born. Need to support my hometown businesses, I say. I think this guy was the first one to open up a poke store on Oahu. Very fresh, shoyu poke is made when ordered. Plus he makes a mean Beef Stew. Almost as good as mine. Almost.
    I also tried the Poke Stop (?) in Mililani. This place was featured on the Food Network’s “Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives” from a few years back. My verdict? Disappointing. Shoyu poke tasted like its been sitting in shoyu for a few hours too many. Kimchi poke was totally off tasting. So I don’t rely on Mr. Fieri’s recommendations anymore. Sorry, dude, you have no taste at all. 
    Which speaking of Koreans running Japanese restaurants in LV, we have that here at quite a few Ramen-Ya restaurants, where the owners are Korean, not Japanese. With that, you can tell by the flavor of the broth that they’re “Korea-fying” it. I don’t like that. When I eat Japanese Ramen, it better taste JAPANESE, not Korean. Like there’s this Ramen-Ya near Ala Moana named Taiyo Ramen, where the side dishes to their ramen is Gyoza that’s more like Mandoo, and Kim Chee! WTH? And their Ramen is more like “Sprout Men”, with I swear half the “noodles” being bean sprouts! Ack!
    That said, my current favorite Ramen-Ya in Honolulu is still Goma-Tei in Ward Center. I have yet to taste a better authentic Japanese Tokyo style Shoyu Ramen that beats Goma-Tei here on Oahu, IMO. Yet interestingly, Goma-Tei is owned by a Chinese guy who was partners with a Nihonjin guy who owned Goma Ichi before branching off and starting Goma-Tei. Of course, it’s all who’s the cook and what’s the recipes, not necessarily who’s the owner.
    I have not found an authentic Ramen-ya in Vegas. Pretty good, but not the real deal. I think they might be owned by Koreans. No offense, but stick to what you know, you know what I mean? But the gyoza is above average. Miso Ramen is my favorite, followed by shoyu, and tonkatsu ramen. Except the seasoned boiled egg. Could never eat that, even small keed time. I know, that’s one of the best part of ramen, the seasoned egg. It’s all about the buta niku for me. If that ain’t happening on my taste buds, then it’s a mediocre/bad bowl of ramen. 
    Back home, I usually hit Ezogiku Ramen near the Hyatt Regency for my ramen fix. I try not to drive a lot when I’m home (the traffic seems to be worse each time I return). With all the grinding I do, I need to walk as much as I can! Need to take notes on all these ramen places to try when I come back. 
    Have you ever seen the movie, “Tampopo?” One of my favorite food-related movies of all time. The ramen scenes are hilarious. There’s a couple of scenes in it that was…anywho, one scene involves a girl, a guy and a raw egg. The other is produce in the market. It’s ummm…just rent it, you’ll see. 
    That’s true, nobody in their right mind would waste steak-quality beef such as Wagyu in a stew. Same for lobster and  king crab, unless it was all just leftovers, then yeah.
    I still think the Buddae-jjigae tableside concept is fantastic, with some more haute, luxurious potential in the dish. Such as perhaps an Italian Cioppioni seafood version, where you keep adding more seafood and wine-infused tomato broth to the stew pot as you eat it tableside over a plate of fancy crostini drizzled with truffle and extra virgin olive oil. Kinda’ like Shabu Shabu-meets-Budae jjigae.
    Ahhh, Cioppino. Move over, Rice-A-Roni, you are NOT the San Francisco treat. Who in the hell eats that crap, anyway?
    I’ve had many a bowl of Cioppino living in SF. And the best Cioppino I’ve had was not at the Wharf. No sir. It was at Tadich’s Grill over in the Financial District. The oldest restaurant in SF and I believe all of the west. Experts at seafood, especially Cioppino. And their halibut and dover sole. Oh em gee the best. Best! Classy joint where waiters are dressed in tuxes. But not so classy that you feel out of place. Or a fish out of water har har har!
    I was thinking peeled chunks of russet potatoes might be a good add-in for Budae Jjigae. (Not like it has a ton of ingredients already.)  And scallops to give it a little twist. Bettah poor man’s lobsta than the actual thing. Maybe even sukiyaki cut beef brisket? (Hell NO on Wagyu or Kobe. Hellz Nawwwww. This kind of meat is best served grilled slightly above rare/little bit medium rare and paired with a full-bodied Cab or my personal fave, Zin. Lots of it. And a Creme Brulee or Panacotta with fresh fruit for dessert ;-) Oh the endless possibilities, no? 
    Hey, I know it’s not targeting you, but any chance you’re getting fed “Beautiful Asian women looking for American Men to date” Google ads on this blog post? I sure hope it’s not just me. lol
    LOL Nope! Why, Pomai, are you looking for Beautiful Asian women to date? Don’t answer that – I’m clowning you, since you brought it up! 
     
    I use private browsing and an ad blocker program. I mean, I don’t want my search habits known or have cookies left behind. Or that I download porn (I kid, KID!!! No freak out, OK?)

    You know, you’re right. You and I do think quite alike. A little too much, maybe? Right onnnnn!

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