Budae jjigae, or army stew, is a quintessential camping food in Korea. The dish's varied ingredients can be held in coolers or at room temperature for extended periods of time, making them easy to bring along. This recipe skips the broth-making step but calls for assembling a budae jjigae sauce ahead of time, if desired. When ready to cook, all you need to do is layer the toppings (which can also be done ahead) with the sauce in the pot, pour water over the ingredients and cook over a fire. It's topped off with ramen and rice cakes at the end, for a hearty finish.
For the budae jjigae sauce: Combine the gochujang, kimchi brine, doenjang, gochugaru, garlic powder, onion powder, mirin, fish sauce, guk-ganjang, white pepper and garlic in a medium bowl and mix with a spoon until combined. Set aside. (If making a day ahead, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until using.)
For the toppings: Prepare a campfire and let it burn so there are plenty of hot coals to cook over.
To assemble, arrange the kimchi, bacon, onion, leek and budae jjigae sauce in separate sections over the bottom of a 6-quart cast-iron camp Dutch oven. Shingle the tofu, Spam and hot dog slices in sections over the first layer. Carefully pour in 7 cups of water. Cover the pot and place in the coals.
Bring to a boil and cook, skimming off any foam and fat with a spoon, if needed, until the broth turns vibrant and thick from the sauce, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Add 1/2 cup more water at a time, if needed. (It should be fairly salty since the starches added next might dilute the flavor.)
Add the ramen and tteok, cover and cook until the ramen is tender and the tteok are soft and chewy in the center, 4 to 5 minutes, laying the mozzarella slices over the ramen during the last minute of cooking. Remove from the heat. Top with the scallions or chiles, if using, and serve with steamed rice.
Budae jjigae is best made with ripe or fully fermented kimchi.
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