How To Give Your Sloppy Joes A Korean Flavor Upgrade

As far as meaty comfort foods go the Sloppy Joe is an easy and delicious dinner option. All you need are some ground meat, buns, and a killer sauce. The sauce part is particularly flexible, welcoming tangy, spicy, and even slightly sweet flavors. Though a tomato-rich version is the go-to base for Sloppy Joes, there are plenty of other ingredients that you can add that will help to bring out a note of sophistication.

Enter the Korean fermented chili paste, gochujang, the perfect condiment for the job. With just a tablespoon or two of this spicy and sweet paste added to the sauce, you'll impart an undeniable oomph to your meat sandwich mix. Gochujang pairs well with other traditional Sloppy Joe flavors, like the sweet ketchup and umami-rich Worcestershire sauce, so it blends in seamlessly. It also opens up the door for you to incorporate more umami-rich Asian condiments so that your next meal takes on an entirely new international-inspired flavor. 

How to incorporate the spicy umami magic of gochujang

You have free reign to use whatever meat or bread you'd like, as all of the changes suggested here have to do with adjusting the sauce. Take a traditional recipe for the Sloppy Joe, one that uses a bulk of either barbecue or ketchup, and start by incorporating one or two tablespoons of gochujang into the mix. Depending on what brand you buy, it can be quite spicy, so taste as you go along. And that's as simple as it gets — a quick mix and taste and you'll have an excellent sauce heightened by gochujang. 

You can also double down on the Asian twist by adding some extra touches like trading Worcestershire for a splash of fish sauce for a salty punch or some gochugaru chili flakes for a boost of spiciness. Even a teaspoon or two of miso would be a welcome addition. Perhaps some chopped kimchi could even be stirred in to add a bit of tang and crunch. Feel free to take it as far as you can. Or keep it simple and just stick with the easy addition of gochujang. Either way, you won't be disappointed.