July is National Hot Dog Month if you didn't know, and the Fourth of July always promises to be one of the biggest hot dog consumption days of the year. Just because hot dogs are ubiquitous doesn't mean a casual cookout has to be pedestrian. Start with some high quality links from your local butcher (I like Rudolph's in Deep Ellum) and then throw a whole kitchen sink's worth of condiments on a table to let your guests go nuts piling their hot dogs high.
Forget about ketchup and relish. Here are eight condiments and toppings that pack serious flavors.
Grab a can of Coleman's mustard powder and follow the directions on the back, or if you're feeling extra spicy look up one of a million recipes on the internet for mustard made with beer. When you make mustard from scratch it packs a serious wallop akin to the wasabi overdose you endured the first time you visited a sushi restaurant. That plastic yellow bottle will never look the same again.
Not the stuff in a can or bag that you get at the grocery store, but hand-crafted, fermented cabbage. When made fresh in small batches the vegetable retains its chew and the flavors are more mild, less salty, and let your hot dog stand on its own. Bolsa Mercado sells some on occasion. If that doesn't work try a German deli and ask for the best stuff they have.
It's not just for pho. Hoisin is sweet, complex and perfect to slather on a hot dog bun. Try it paired with tart toppings like a vinegar laden slaw to help tone down the acid.
The king of all southern relishes, chow-chow puts that green stuff to shame. It's spicy, crunchy, and perfect on a hot dog with a big smear of mustard. Most grocery stores carry store versions but just like with many of these toppings, you'll get a lot more flavor and intesity if you make your own.
You'll likely have to hit your local Asian grocery to find this one, but the effort will pay off. Finely chop the coarse versions so you can slather this spicy, funky condiment on all your links. You'll give that Ssahm food truck a run for their money.
Sriracha and Kewpie
Cock Sauce kicks ketchup's ass, and Kewpie mayo comes in a soft plastic bottle made for squeezing onto hot dogs in artful zig-zags. Both condiments are great on their own, but together they form a one-two punch that will change your cookouts forever.
Everyone expects diced yellow onions on the hot dog condiment bar, but unless they're really fresh, they sometimes pack too much pungency. Try a simple pickled red onion with a little sugar in the recipe to temper the vinegar's acidity.
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There are lots of slaw recipes out there so don't stop with the creamy stuff you learned to love at Chick-Fil-A. Try a vinegar based slaw with chilies for heat and add some sichuan peppercorns for some unexpected electricity.