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Now reading A Guide to Hot Dogs of the World

A Guide to Hot Dogs of the World

A global look at the tube steak.

As Americans, our earliest sausage forays usually come in hot-dog form. At the movie theater, in the backyard, at a ball game, or at Ikea, wherever you had it, your hot dog probably came unadorned, wrapped in paper or foil, squishy from steaming. You unwrapped it and topped it as you liked with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, maybe sauerkraut. And whatever way you ate it, that’s what you knew hot dogs to be. But then you get older. You moved out of your parents’ house and realized they’d been shielding you from a whole world of hot-dog possibilities. In Asia, the dog has broken free from the leash of the bun. In South America, toppings are ample and rich; and in the American Southwest, they are borderline evil. Herein, a selection of just a few of the many wonderful things people do with their wieners.

This is excerpted from The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A Treasury of Encased Meats, Lucky Peach’s new single-subject cookbook and reference guide for anyone interested in sausages, on sale now! 

Cachorro Quente

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Where: Brazil
Meat: beef
Preparation: grilled
Served: on a bun, loaded with toppings

It makes sense that the country that is home to Carnival would also be home to cachorro quente, a gluttonously redeco­rated Brazilian take on a hot dog. The cachorro quente starts out innocently enough—a soft white bun plus a steamed or boiled sausage—then takes a turn for the insane when toppings enter the equation. Tomatoes, corn, bacon bits, ground beef, mashed potatoes, quail eggs, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, grated cheese, batata palha (fried slivers of potato). It goes without saying, but a cachorro quente is best consumed long after the sun goes down, when darkness conceals the sins layered atop the unsus­pecting white bun.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog

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Where: Chicago
Meat: all-beef hot dog
Preparation: steamed
Served: on a poppyseed bun, with tomatoes, mustard, neon green relish, dill pickle, onions, sport peppers, and celery salt

Chicagoans are extraordinarily particular about what comprises a proper hot dog in the Windy City. Ketchup is verboten. Relish must be neon green. A sprinkling of celery salt is essential. If your dog does not meet their exacting specifications, you can’t call it Chicago style. They’ll probably make you surrender your license to wear a mustache, too.

Completo

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Where: Chile
Meat: beef
Preparation: boiled
Served: in a bun, loaded with lots of toppings, especially mayo

The Chilean completo is, as the name promises, complete. A grinder roll provides the structural support for a standard boiled hot dog, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocados, and—this is the essential ingredient— more mayonnaise than seems possible or advisable. This relatively tame take on the completo is known as el italiano because of its colors, which are simi­lar to those of the Italian flag. But to make it even more completo, add more toppings: green salsa, bacon, sauerkraut, melted cheese. There’s no wrong way, but remember the mayonesa is the star of this show.

Khao Pad American

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Where: Thailand
Meat: American-style hot dogs (beef, pork, and mechanically separated poultry)
Preparation: notched with an X at each end, so they “blossom” when fried
Served: with very sweet fried rice, fried chicken, ham, and a fried egg

Khao pad American (literally “American fried rice”) sounds like a parody dish at first: fried rice sweetened with ketchup, raisins, and sugar, and then topped with a meat lover’s mixed bag of chicken, ham, eggs—all fried in butter—and deep-fried hot dog “blossoms.” But the concoction isn’t satire; it originated with the U.S. armed forces stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War, when Thai cooks kindly cobbled together a dish of all the things our homesick boys longed for. Almost half a century later, khao pad American is still popular, especially with young, drunk people (it’s often offered in university cafeterias). 

Mini Chili-Cheese Dog

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Where: North Adams, MA
Meat: beef
Preparation: steamed
Served: in a squishy bun, topped with chili, cheese, mustard, and onions

The Berkshires are home to a number of hot doggeries specializing in minuscule chili dogs. But Jack’s Hot Dog Stand, in North Adams, Massachusetts, is the high practitioner of the teeny-tiny chili doggy. Jack’s opened around the same time that Greek immigrants were opening Coneys in Detroit, putting it right up there with the progenitors of the American chili dog. Jack’s dogs are bigger than some of their truly mini Berkshires brethren, which can sometimes measure just over finger length, but not so large that a hungry hungry hippo can’t take down a half dozen without thinking about it. The chili is cooked down to its savory essence (meat, no beans); the cheese is white American; the bread is squishy super­market-style. Acceptable additions are mustard and onions. 

Salchipapas

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Where: Lima, Peru
Meat: beef
Preparation: pan-fried
Served: sliced, with fries

In Lima, Peru, they’ve taken a staple of the American diet—a hot dog and fries—and improved on it. Salchipapas, a portmanteau of salchicha (sausage) and papas (potatoes), is better than the sum of its parts. Peruvian street vendors chop sausage into bite-size chunks and toss them with fries. Then they combine two other American staples—ketchup and mayonnaise—call it salsa rosada, and drizzle it on top. (For maximum convenience, some vendors preload the salsa into a small plastic cup and top it with the salchipapas.) With its critical combination of salt, fat, and sauce, it’s no wonder salchipapas has conquered most of South America.

Seattle Hot Dog

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Where: Seattle
Meat: pork and beef, usually
Preparation: boiled and grilled
Served: with cream cheese, onions, various toppings

In the 1980s, in the Seattle neighborhood of Pioneer Square, a serendipitous ménage à trois between drunk people, hot dogs, and local bagel culture produced a famous child. Someone (either at a hot dog stand or a bagel shop, reports vary) started serving liquored-up revelers hot dogs on day-old bialys schmeared with cream cheese. At some point, grilled onions came into the fold, the hot dogs were split down the middle and grilled after being poached, the cream cheese stopped being spread and started getting piped on like caulking, and the bialys were replaced by regular buns. Seattle-style dogs are sold in and around Safeco Field, as well as at pretty much every hot dog stand down­town. The actual dog can be a classic hot dog or a Polish sausage, and additional toppings can include Sriracha, mustard, sauerkraut, and jalapeños.

Sonoran-Style Hot Dog

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Where: southwest U.S., northwest Mexico
Meat: pork or beef
Preparation: wrapped in bacon; griddled
Served: on a bolillo roll with toppings

One origin story has the Sonoran being born in the Mexican province of the same name before striking out for the States. Others skip the migration narrative and begin where this over­dressed hot dog grows best: the Ameri­can Southwest. While we can’t tell you exactly where this thing is from, we can tell you where it’s going: straight to your thighs. Like its cousin the Danger Dog, the Sonoran is wrapped in bacon before being griddled or grilled. The Sonoran bun is a bolillo—more commonly seen as a vessel for tortas—so the sausage tends not to poke out of the ends, but rather stays snug in the hollow that’s carved out for it. With toppings, it looks like an overstuffed clutch. Those toppings include some combination of red and/or green salsa, grilled or raw white onions, cheese, pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, mustard, a tasteful squeeze of mayonnaise, pickled jalapeños, and—fuck it—a whole second bacon-wrapped hot dog. On the side, you can expect some kind of char-roasted pepper.

Waffle Hot Dogs

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Where: Thailand
Meat: American-style hot dogs (beef, pork, and mechanically separated poultry)
Preparation: griddled in a special waffle-hot-dog contraption
Served: with ketchup, mayonnaise, and/or sweet chili sauce

Yet more evidence of the hot-dog legacy left behind by American GIs stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Waffle hot dogs are basically corn dogs, but sweeter and softer. Thai street vendors skewer store-bought hot dogs, dip them in waffle batter, then lock them in dedicated waffle-hot-dog presses. Drizzled with mayonnaise, ketchup, or sweet chili sauce, they sell for just a few baht each. 

This is excerpted from The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A Treasury of Encased Meats, Lucky Peach’s new single-subject cookbook and reference guide for anyone interested in sausages, on sale now! 

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