Growing up with the name Joe can have its pitfalls while growing up.
“Where’re you goin’ with that gun in your hand?”
It doesn’t help that a lot of words rhyme with Joe, so it almost seems like people are calling your name when they are not. Jo 조 is also an informal way in Korean to say, “Give me!”
I always knew when it was Sloppy Joe night at my house growing up when I came home and my parents were snickering.
“What’s so funny?”
“We’re having Sloppy You for dinner tonight.”
My dad never got tired of that joke, even though he himself was named Joe. He was immune because he chose to go by his middle name, Dan.
Two weeks ago, I made Sloppy Joes for the first time in Korea. Yeah, yeah, it was a jarred sauce that I found at Costco. I also used pork instead of beef because of Korea’s astronomically high beef prices. Nonetheless, they turned out pretty well. Eun Jeong loved her first taste of (what may be) Iowa’s greatest contribution to the culinary world. (<– That is one of the most fascinating links I have found recently.)
Eun Jeong loved the Sloppy Joes so much that she ate the leftovers for breakfast on top of rice.
The other night, we both came home from our jobs exhausted. Eun Jeong had already eaten at her place, but I was starving. I stopped by E-Mart to pick up some ingredients for myself. I told Eun Jeong, whom had offered, to not cook me anything.
Luckily, she chose to ignore me.
She created this dish off the top of her head. She knew I was going to cook dinner for myself, but she felt I needed another side dish.
She made a concoction made from ground pork, onions, carrots, peppers, and a spicy sauce. It tasted almost exactly like a Sloppy Joe! Yet the ingredients in the sauce were 100% Korean.
We made this again yesterday morning for breakfast. Basically, you need julienned onions and carrots. Also you need some garlic. Bell Peppers really add to the flavor, but you can exclude them. Really, any hearty veggies you have lying around in the fridge will work. Yesterday, we used up the leftover zucchini squash.
So basically, here are the steps:
1. Brown the pork in a pan with a heap of black pepper, along with onions, carrots, garlic, and whatever vegetables you have.
2. Add two tablespoons of gochujang 고추장 (the red pepper paste).
3. Add a dash of salt, some soy sauce, some corn syrup, and some mirim 미림 (also known as mirin, a cooking wine made of rice). Taste often to balance the flavors to your liking.
4. Serve on rice or toasted bread.