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Vietnamese Sloppy Joes with Toro

Yes, today we are mixing it up with some tasty results! I was looking for some ideas for ground meat as I recently stocked up at Costco (impulse buy of organic beef on sale) and decided to play around with some Vietnamese flavors. I will admit I have never actually made Sloppy Joes before (I think the name was a big turnoff as well as the use of ketchup). These turned out delicious and begged for a wine with structure and some heft, but not something too complex to be overwhelmed by the dish's moderate heat. Enter one of the best wine deals out there, the 2017 Numanthia Termes Toro, a great introduction to Bodegas Numanthia, a concentrated Spanish red wine with vibrant energy and incredible freshness.

Vietnamese Sloppy Joes

I pickled the carrots and onions for assembling the sandwiches (instructions follow) but they are also tasty raw. Feel free to add to the assembled sandwiches - fresh avocado - arugula - shredded Napa Cabbage - etc. The ingredients that get stirred into the meat (beginning with the tomatoes) may be combined in a bowl before beginning to cook, making that one simple addition after the meat is cooked through.

Makes six sandwiches

Sloppy Joe Filling

1 tbsp. sesame oil

¼ cup coarsely chopped red onions

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 cup diced tomatoes, drained

1 tbsp. grated peeled fresh ginger

3 tbsp. finely chopped peanuts

1 tsp. honey

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup chili garlic sauce

3 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 tbsp. fish sauce


1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 tbsp. sriracha

6 soft buns (preferably crisp outside and soft inside), split

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about ½ cup)

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks (about ½ cup)

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

6 fresh lime wedges

For the Sloppy Joe Filling

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the onions and cook until just softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the ground meat stirring and cook until no longer pink, stirring to break up the meat, about 5-7 minutes. Increase the heat to high, stir in the remaining ingredients, and bring just to bubbling. Lower heat and simmer until thickened, stirring often, about 20 minutes (add ¼ cup water as necessary to keep mixture from sticking to pan). Season with salt and pepper and set aside.


Whisk the mayonnaise and sriracha together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture evenly, spreading over the inside half of each bun. Divide the remaining ingredients evenly over the mayonnaise side of the bun. Divide the sloppy joe mixture evenly among the buns and serve warm with lime wedges.

The sloppy joe filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before serving.

To pickle the carrots and red onion – combine 1 ½ cups rice vinegar, ½ cup water, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 Thai chili pepper and 1 tsp. peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, stirring to melt the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the carrot sticks and red onions. Allow to cool and refrigerate covered for up to a week. Remove chili pepper and peppercorns and drain the liquid before serving.

Copyright 2021 Donna Leahy


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