A traditional, simple-to-prepare comfort dish with a strong Korean flavor! We’ve added crunchy kimchi and Korean gochujang to our recipe for Kimchi Sloppy Joes to give it a fresh, savory Asian touch!
Though I was raised in Poland and adopted from Korea, I want to learn more about Korean food as I haven’t done so before (look out for this year’s recipe for my family’s pierogi!). These Kimchi Sloppy Joes are up first! All of the best parts of a traditional sloppy joe are combined in this Korean American take on the dish, enhanced by the addition of gochujang, a Korean red chili paste, and crunchy, sour, salty, and umami-rich kimchi!
- The foundation of any sloppy joe recipe is ground beef, and for this one, we particularly like a leaner cut of beef—at least 85%, but 90% is ideal. Naturally, the taste of premium grass-fed, organic ground beef also varies, despite its increased cost.
- A mainstay of Korean condiments is gochujang! Its sweet and spicy taste replaces the sugar in traditional sloppy joe recipes, giving them a wonderfully Korean twist.
- Tomato paste and ketchup are essential components of sloppy joe sauce. Make your own Ketchup From Scratch to go over and above and add some real from scratch flare!
- Here, onions and garlic are staples that are sautéed with ground beef.
- Be careful to use seasoned rice vinegar as the acidity and sweetness provide the ideal balance to the gochujang.
- Sesame Oil: The subtle taste of sesame complements all the other Korean tastes.
- Kimchi – The kimchi in these Sloppy Joes with Kimchi! You can use your favorite from your favorite Asian market or your neighborhood grocery shop for the time being, but stay watch for when we ultimately manufacture our own.
- Just enough green onion to give it a fresh flavor!
- Buns: Although they are not shown here, you can use your preferred hamburger buns for this recipe! For these, we adore a nice brioche bun!
What is Kimchi?
A mainstay of Korean cuisine is kimchi. It’s a pickled and fermented vegetable side dish or condiment, usually prepared with cabbage. It was once meant to preserve veggies for the winter, but nowadays, Koreans eat it with every meal, even breakfast. Though there are hundreds of varieties of kimchi and regional variations in recipes, umami, spice, and sourness are the characteristics that most people associate with kimchi.
What is Gochujang?
The Korean cuisine staple gochujang is another. It’s a red chili paste composed of fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and red chili pepper flakes. This paste is thick and sticky, and it works well to provide practically any dish—from soups and dips to entrees—a healthy dose of umami flavor and spice. This isn’t used as a finishing sauce like spicy sauces are; rather, it’s utilized throughout cooking to enhance the flavor of food, particularly meat dishes like these Kimchi Sloppy Joes!
Easy to Make
Both this Korean version and Sloppy Joes come together really quickly! All you have to do is sauté the onion and garlic in sesame oil, then add the beef and mix in the gochujang, tomato paste, vinegar, and ketchup.
All that’s left to do is take your favorite hamburger bread (we like brioche buns for this one), top it with your favorite kimchi, then add the gochujang-flavored beef.
A Korean American twist on the classic: Kimchi Sloppy Joes! Amazingly flavorful meat that tastes like a sloppy joe with a little of Korean flair, accompanied by a perfectly crispy kimchi complement of flavors. This has become my tiny 6-year-old half-Korean daughter’s new favorite!
Do these taste very spicy?
Nope! The gochujang adds a subtle, lasting spice to the dish, which is complemented by sweetness from the ketchup and vinegar. However, these are undoubtedly less sweet than a classic sloppy joe.
Where is gochujang available?
The Asian food department of many large grocery shops will have it, but visiting your neighborhood Asian market is your best chance (and more cost-effective). Of course, you may get it online as well.
Where is kimchi sold?
This is also likely to be found at your neighborhood Asian market or in the vegetable department’s refrigerated area of your local grocery store. However, if this is your first time purchasing kimchi, you might want to start small at your neighborhood store, since the variety at the Asian market may be too much to handle.
Which kimchi is the finest to use?
Best for: Any decent kimchi made with cabbage and not tagged as “spicy” will work well in this recipe. You’re looking for “classic” cabbage-based kimchi.
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- Dutch Oven Chicken and Dumplings Soup
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- Bacon Burgers with Maple Bourbon Caramelized Onions
Kimchi Sloppy Joes
- 1 lb lean ground beef 85% – 90%
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 white onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon gochujang
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup green onions diced
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups kimchi about 14 oz
- 4 brioche buns
- In a large sauté pan, add the sesame oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for two minutes.
- Add the ground beef and heat, breaking it up as it cooks, until it is browned. Saute over medium heat for 7–8 minutes, or until most of the pink is gone. Toss in the tomato paste, vinegar, ketchup, and gochujang, being sure to thoroughly mix everything and cover every piece of beef. Add the green onions and cook for a further two to three minutes.
- Place a generous portion of meat on top of each bun, cover with kimchi, and enjoy!
Freezer: The meat may be prepared ahead of time and kept there for up to four months. Remove from freezer and allow it defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Replacements
For this dish, we like to use ground beef that is at least 85%–90% leaner, but you may certainly use a lesser percentage. In that case, we recommend draining the extra fat before adding the ketchup, gochujang, etc.
Onion: Yellow works well, but white is our preferred color.
Because seasoned rice vinegar has more sweetness than unseasoned rice vinegar, it is really preferable to use seasoned rice vinegar. Irin is another option.
Choose your favorite kimchi! My spouse like it best with a hot kimchi, but we often use a milder kind for our children.