Mar 26, 2024

Food I Love and Miss Back From High School Years - Sloppy Joes

I bet I'm the few Taiwanese who actually had a food memory about sloppy joes, a type of sandwich with ground beef filling seasoned with some sort of tomato sauce, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

The connection between sloppy joes and I traced back during high school year. During my stay in Minnesota, the local church used to serve sloppy joes after Sunday service. I believe I also had it at school lunches once a while. 

Sloppy Joes are not so common outside the central part of America I think, not mentioning Taiwan. So if I have a craving for it, I need to make it myself. Good thing that it's not like mad science and so hard to figure out, the version I came up with pretty much matches the flavor profile from my memory.

Sloppy Joes - 

Sloppy Joes

Ingredients (about 6 servings)?

  • 540 grams ground beef
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 sets hamburger buns
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some chips (optional)


Peel and dice the onion to smaller than usual size, but not like tiny cubes. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and remove the pits for the bell pepper, then chop the bell pepper to smaller cubes.

Ingredients for sloppy joes

Bring out a big pan or use a Dutch oven, add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Turn to medium heat and wait till the butter starts to melt. 

Add in ground beef, cook and separate the meat. Continue to sear till the color changes and the meat fully separated. Scoop out the beef, including the juice and set aside for later use.

Cooked ground beef

Drizzle 1 more tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and still use medium heat. Add in the onion along with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the bell pepper and garlic. Stir-fry till aromatic but not burn the garlic bits. 

Cooking chopped onion and bell pepper

Transfer the beef back along with its juice, give it a quick mix.

Add 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and couple dashes of Tabasco sauce. Mix and cook till combined.

Fillings for sloppy joes

Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, so all the ingredients will bind together nicely and the consistency starts to thicken. You can cook 1 to 2 minutes longer depending on how the mixture looks, and how dense you'd prefer.

Toast some hamburger buns. I simply heat up the center sides by putting the buns on a clean nonstick pan. Switch to medium heat and once hot enough, the buns will start to brown. Be careful though, once reaching that heat point, the buns can get toasted fairly quickly, so don't leave them on the pan for too long.

Add one or two spoonful of the ground beef mixture to the buns and serve with chips or some pickles.

Sloppy joes with chips

I believe that I have not yet seeing any single sloppy joes in Taiwan. Perhaps they'll have it at local American school, but outside that circle, not that I know of. 

Besides sloppy joes, there are so many other comforting food memories from Minnesota, such as my host family's homemade bread, roasted chicken, all sort of casseroles, and wild rice soup. Glad that even though some of these food might be hard to find in Taiwan, at least I have the skill to make them myself. 

Sloppy joes with chips

So what I'm planning to do in the near future will be something wild rice based. I have a pack of it right in the cabinet, just need to figure out which flavor profile I should tackle with next.

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