Korean Mandatory Military Service Part 2 (Military Food)

Mingi Woo

Hello again, and I am back this time with more information about the Korean Military. This time we will go over military food.

Like a school cafeteria, the food served in the dining facility is different each day. When you were in school, there were those days when the cafeteria served the most popular food and kids would storm the cafeteria to be first in line. This is the same for the Korean military, and there is usually a long line on those days. So what are these food that causes such excitement from soldiers?

Army Base Stew (부대찌개)

The first on our list is Army Stew or Budae Jjigae. The army base stew despite the name is actually very popular outside of the military. The army base stew was invented by the Korean soldiers after the signing of the armistice that temporally stopped the Korean War. The dished was created using leftover/surplus supplies of meat-based rations, like sausages and spam, from the U.S. military. Army base stew has a close resemblance to the popular Kimchi stew, which makes it a sought-after menu within the military.

Stir-fired Sausage in Ketchup (비엔나소세지 캐찹볶음)

In my opinion, this dish is one of my favorite dishes that were served in the dining facility. It is difficult to call it a dish on its own and it is more of a side dish where you eat it with rice and other side dishes like dried seaweeds. Something about the mini sausage feels nostalgic since mini sausage was a popular food in packed launches before public schools offer school launches. It is possible that is where the popularity stemmed from.

Military Burger (군대리아)

The next on our list is the military burger. There are some mixed opinions about the military burger. The military burger is slightly different from a traditional burger in the mean of ingredients. Instead of using vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. The burger uses coleslaw as the bases for the vegetables within the burger. For the condiments, it uses ketchup mayo, and strawberry jam. The jam might be slightly off-putting, but the jam actually goes well within a ham sandwich which I think was the idea. There are two ways people eat the military burger. There are those that eat normally with all the ingredients stacked between the buns, and there are those that eat it differently. What they do instead is use the strawberry jam and mix it with milk to form strawberry milk. Then they will soak the buns in the strawberry jam milk like soaking ladyfingers with coffee to create tiramisu and the patty will be consumed separately with the coleslaw. They do this because the buns used in the military are extremely dry and swallowing the burger is very difficult without the help of any liquid.

These were the three foods that soldiers enjoyed during my time serving the Korean military. You should however remember that foods within the military must not be compared to those of the outside. Nonetheless, almost everything tastes good after a long day of work and training.

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