This dish is called Korean army base stew because it was made using American army rations after the Korean War. Switch ingredients as you like and you will still have heaven in a bowl!
- 8 to 10 cloves garlic
- 25 g gochugaru (Korean red chilli flakes)
- 40 to 50 g gochujang (Korean red chilli paste)
- 2 tsps soy sauce
- 2 tsps sugar
- 2 to 4 tbsps chicken stock
- 400 g napa cabbage
- 300 g firm tofu
- 300 g mushrooms
- 340 g tin luncheon meat
- 300 to 400 g sausages
- 3 to 4 stalks scallions
- 200 g kimchi
- 1 packet Korean instant noodles
- 2 to 3 slices processed cheese
- 2 to 3 litres warm chicken stock
Finely chop the garlic and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients for the paste. Mix with a spoon and add more stock if the paste is too stiff. It should slide off a spoon easily. Set aside.
Rinse the cabbage, chop off the root part and slice crosswise into 2 cm-wide pieces. Rinse the tofu under running water and slice as thinly or thickly as you like. Slice the mushrooms, or if using shimeji, slice off the root end and separate the mushrooms from the clump. Halve the block of luncheon meat and slice into 1 cm-thick pieces. Slice the sausages as thinly or thickly as you like. Slice the scallions on the diagonal.
In a frying pan or shallow pot (the one I use is 36cm in diameter), begin layering the ingredients. Scatter the napa cabbage at the bottom, followed by the kimchi. Place the instant noodles in the middle. Top with the slices of processed cheese. Arrange the tofu, mushrooms, luncheon meat and sausages around the noodles. Do not overload the pan. If you have ingredients left over, place them on a platter.
Dollop the spice paste over the ingredients and scatter the chopped scallions on top.
Set the pan on a portable stove at the dining table. Pour in enough warm chicken stock to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides. Turn the heat on to medium.
The stew is ready to eat when the stock bubbles, the instant noodles are cooked and the cheese has melted. Serve with rice, each bowl topped with a pat of butter to be mixed into the rice. If there were ingredients that would not fit in the pan, add them as you eat the stew, and add more stock as needed.