<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5467010065/” title=”IMG_0187 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5174/5467010065_88e0ac8caf.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”IMG_0187″ /></a>
Here we have the South Korean dish, budae chiggae (부대찌개). It translates roughly as army camp stew and dates back to the times of the Korean war, when local folk didn’t have much to eat so they’d go trash-can diving around the back of Uncle Sam’s. Its got some broken up bits of instant noodles (ramen to the americans, and _Ramyeon_ here), sliced up sausage, some sort of bacon/ham stuff, bean sprouts, clear noodles, _dokk_ (unflavoured pulped & compressed rice), a little bit of spring onion and the ever-present kim chi.
The restaurant attendant sticks it on a burner on the table in front of you. With the lid on it boils up and 5-10 mins later, voila!
<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/5467010387/” title=”IMG_0188 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5252/5467010387_e97ce10765.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”IMG_0188″ /></a>
You’re ready to ladle a bit out into a small dish and eat. It’s spicy. I’ve read that there can be some flexibility to the ingredients included, along the lines of tofu or mushroom. It’s cheap. The meal pictured was KRW12000 for two people which works out to about $10AUD.
My first reaction to this kind of meal (poverty food, as I call it — there are quite a few dishes that fit into this category) is ‘well, the country is a lot more wealthy now, so why not chuck some broccoli, cherry tomatoes in there and standardise the mushrooms while you’re at it. It’d make it healthier’. But then, this would make it that bit more expensive. But then, that would only be until more farmers started growing those things. One thing I do like about the economy of the whole thing is that there doesn’t have to be 40 cooks in the kitchen boiling up everyone’s chiggae; if you do it at the table (and it’s easy) then that keeps the price down a tad.
This is a meal where east and west could benefit from each-other. Some more greens in this really would be good. And people in cities like Melbourne would lose weight if they could get to a budae chiggae restaurant every now and then. The intense spiciness has the effect of making you feel full before the point when you really are. And, an hour and a half later when you feel hungry again, if you can push through those brief pangs without getting on the doughnuts, then you’ve made your first step away from being a fatty.