Nothing says summer like a hot dog

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, hot dogs are a fun summertime food. Although they are popular all year round with the kids, they become more appealing to adults during camping season.

Top left: What’s not to love about a fire-roasted wiener?

Top left: What’s not to love about a fire-roasted wiener?

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, hot dogs are a fun summertime food. Although they are popular all year round with the kids, they become more appealing to adults during camping season.

Hot dogs skewered on a stick and held over an open fire until they are bubbly brown and hot are probably the single best and easiest camping food.

Cooked this way, many choose to go “naked” when it comes to their hot dogs — no ketchup, no mustard and no bun. This leaves only the simple taste of the succulent smoked wiener.

But if we have learned anything from Eve and her apple it is that going naked is a sin. The more sophisticated way to enjoy hot dogs is when they are all dressed up!

Dressing a hot dog is an art and everyone has a very personal way of doing it.

Around the globe, people get very adventurous with their dog toppings. In Denmark and Norway, hot dogs, or “pølse”, are served with bacon and or cheese. In Quebec, “Michigan”-style hot dogs are served with spaghetti sauce.

In some parts of South America, hot dogs are known as perros calientes and are often served with potato chip crumbs, sliced onion, Colombian country cheese, honey, ketchup or mustard and sometimes a little cooked quail egg on top.

In Chile, street vendors sell completos, literally meaning complete, topped with diced tomatoes, sauerkraut, ketchup, sweet mustard, and mayonnaise. The vendors often provide ají, a spicy red pepper sauce to heat things up. Replace the sauerkraut with guacamole, and you’ve got an Italiano.

Traditionalists still prefer the basic — the classic yellow mustard, with the good old red tomato ketchup.

But with consumers, demand for more diverse flavours, both these condiments have underwent a drastic transformation, providing wider choices and varieties.

You can buy dozens of premium mustards — dijon mustard, honey mustard, horseradish mustard, spicy mustard, raspberry mustard while varieties of ketchup include roasted garlic and pepper , sweet and tangy banana ketchup, Maggi’s hot and mild curry ketchups. For anyone on a quest for the ultimate hot dog personalization, consider a wide variety condiments to add a new level of pizzazz.

Hot dogs can be eaten with cheese, sauerkraut, coleslaw, pickle relish and chopped red onion. Other ingredients may include mayonnaise, cream cheese, chopped lettuce, garden tomato (chopped, sliced, or in wedges), pickle spear, and seasoned with celery salt.

Of course, all of these choices can lead to quite a condiment conundrum. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few suggestions for pairings of condiments to get your campers intrigued.

• Add some fruit over your wieners. Mix finely chopped pear or apple into your favourite bottled salsa or chilli sauce. Spread over hot dog, and then scatter with grated nippy cheddar and sliced green onion.

• Bring in some Japanese zing by blending wasabi into mayonnaise and then spread over hot dogs. Top with pickled ginger and sliced green onions.

• Entice your fellow camper by combing mango chutney with prepared mustard and curry powder. Add finely chopped apple. Spoon on hot dogs and scatter with flaked coconut.

• Everyone likes chilli and chips. Consider spooning chilli, spiked with hot sauce, on hot dogs. Then layer with chopped avocado, grated cheddar and pieces of tortilla chips.

• If you like Mexican flavours, spoon salsa on top of your wiener. Sprinkle some nacho style cheese, chopped tomatoes, black olives, chopped green onions, wedges of avocado and dollops of sour cream.

Whether you like your hot dogs plain or fancy, summer is the time to enjoy them. If camping is scheduled this May long weekend, have a hot dog cook out with all the fixin’s and invite a few exotic condiments along for the fun.

Mango-Pineapple salsa

2 large mangoes, ripe but still firm, peeled

1 pineapple, peeled and cored

1 large red bell pepper, seeded

1 medium red onion, peeled

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

125ml (1/2 cup) chopped fresh cilantro

50ml (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lime juice

Cut mangoes, pineapple, red bell pepper, and red onion into 1/4-inch cubes. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Wasabi Mayonnaise

3 tablespoons powdered wasabi

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 large egg — at room temp

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Combine wasabi, lemon and lime juices, and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, break egg into food processor before turning it on. Slowly add oil, a few drops at a time at first, then in a thin steady stream until mixture is thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add wasabi mixture, soy sauce, and coriander and pulse to combine, about 5 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at madhubadoni@gmail.com.

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