I wrote about Gochujang, one of the Korean mother sauces on The Eat Post last year and it’s one of those star ingredients I turn to when I tire of other chilli sauces. It adds depth to everything from clear soups to hot pots, and brushed on little chicken wings, it also stands in for bottled barbecue sauce. Gochujang paste comes in red tubs that are a bit hard to come by, but it’s an ingredient worth keeping an eye out for. Made with sun-dried chillies, fermented soybeans, glutenous rice and seasoning, it’s poured into earthen pots called Onggi, then dried out for two to three months, or till they reach the desired flavour and colour. If you’ve enjoyed piling your plate with kimchi during the gruelling wait at a restaurant, chances are you already love gochujang. It lends to kimchi it’s fermented complexity and adds personality to an otherwise boring bowl of bibimbap, the signature Korean rice bowl with vegetables, usually topped with an egg. Somewhere between sweet and salty, it detonates like an umami bomb of heat.
This recipe for a Korean Sloppy Joe comes from one of my favourite cookbooks- Koreatown by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard. The marinade is quite simple, but the trick is in the cooking- you want the mince to retain its sauciness, so it’s crucial that you don’t dry it out. Splash in some water and adjust the seasoning if you feel it’s getting too dry. Pair this with pickles from a bottle or kimchi if you’ve got a batch ready. I used pao instead of slider or burger buns, but you could easily swap those out.
Ground pork 500g or a Mix of ground lamb and pork
Ginger 1-inch piece, freshly grated
Garlic cloves 6-8 fat ones, also grated
Gochujang 5 tbsp
Sesame Oil 1 tbsp
Sugar 1 tbsp
Dark Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Black pepper 1 tsp
Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp
Burger buns or Pao 4-5
White Onions 1 cup, diced
Pickles/ Kimchi/ Quick pickled purple cabbage to add some colour
Chips on the side
Cheese on top, if you like
Mix together the ground pork with the ginger, garlic cloves, gochujang, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce and pepper. Let this marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours at least or overnight.
In a pan, pour over the vegetable oil and let it heat over a high flame. Add in the diced onions and saute this until soft and browned nicely. This is the base for your mince filling. Add in the marinated meat and saute this stirring constantly for five minutes until done.
If the meat filling is drying out too quickly, splash in some water quickly and stir. Check for salt, and take it off the flame.
Spoon the filling into the buns and serve with pickles, chips and cold beer.