A popular Korean hot pot dish, budae jjigae or “army base stew,” evolved in the years following the Korean war, when food was scarce and the local population made a stew using processed foods like Spam and canned pork and beans from American army bases. The ingredients vary by recipe, but the best versions feature homemade broth and are served bubbling hot.
For the sauce: Put the gochugaru, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, mirin, sesame oil, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
For the broth: Put the dried anchovies, garlic, daikon, kombu, onion and 2 quarts water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Strain into a bowl or saucepan and discard the solids.
For the toppings: Arrange the Spam, cocktail sausages, bacon, tofu, tteok, pork and beans, kimchi and sliced onion in a large, low-sided skillet. Add the sauce to the middle of the pot; don't stir. Heat on high heat for 5 minutes. Add enough broth to cover all the ingredients (you may not use all the broth), bring to a boil and boil on high heat for 5 minutes. Mix the sauce gently into the broth so it is well incorporated. Lower to medium heat and add the remaining broth. Simmer for 10 more minutes, then add the ramen and cook until the noodles are just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and top with mozzarella, scallions and watercress. Serve with steamed rice.
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