Hot Dogs with an "Asian" Twist

Saturday, May 25, 2013

It is my philosophy that cooking should never be considered drudgery, and the difference between the work of an enthusiastic or resentful cook is most apparent with food. It's a great hobby, and as I've said before, it's a good way to relieve stress, being such an intensely sensory, hands-on experience.

But putting food on the table on a daily basis is a little different from doing it occasionally as a hobby. It's a commitment, and you have to suck it up and remind yourself not to weasel out when you feel like you can't be bothered and would rather have takeout. And I've found that in order to achieve that, you've got to pick your battles and make compromises, just like you do when working. And cooking for yourself on a regular basis is a sort of test of one's managerial and logistical skills, even more than one's cookery.

Case in point, I have a really hard time using up the ingredients I buy, mostly because I rarely cook for more than two people at a time and have to use small portions (and even then I end up with leftovers). It kind of broke my heart every time I had to throw away something that cost good money to buy, and after a recent cleaning frenzy in which I must have cleared out at least five kilos of produce from the fridge, and spent about an hour scrubbing the residue from the crisper, I resolved to limit myself strictly to cooking what's in the fridge that day.

Yesterday, browsing one of my favorite cooking blogs, I came across this recipe for a twist on the classic hot dog with an "asian" slaw and substituting ketchup for sriracha. I resolved to make it as soon as I got back to my own kitchen, not only because it looked really good, but because I saw an opportunity to deploy a lot of things I already had in the pantry: sriracha, mustard, peanut butter and toasted sesame oil, rice wine, and an andouille sausage that isn't traditionally used in hot dogs but which I thought would go fabulously with a spicy sauce.

Trouble is, I had no cabbage, nor Napa cabbage. Resisting the impulse to buy more (also, the hot humid weather and the long walk to the grocery store was a good deterrent), I remembered that a carrot I already had in the fridge could be a good substitute. Then I was at a loss to find a way to shred said carrot without a mandoline. Luckily, H.'s suggestion of using a potato peeler to strip long ribbons from the carrot worked like a charm. I also julienned an Asian pear, because I remembered that the Korean version of steak tartare is garnished with pear and sesame oil, which go together much better than you'd think.

The sauce was really fun to make, and to make a couple of improvisations to. I omitted the canola oil, substituted the vinegar for a mixture of mirin, soy sauce (the Chinese/Korean kind), and a dash of anchovy sauce. I tossed it all with the carrot and pear, and assembled it at the end: toasted bread spread with Korean mustard, the Andouille sausage, the carrot-pear slaw, some picked onions I had on hand, and a dash of sriracha.

It was messy to eat (like hot dogs always are when they have all the fixings), but it was pretty damn good... in fact, I think this was better because cabbage would have been too thick, too stiff, and blandly watery, diluting all the intense flavor of the other ingredients. H. gave it a 9.6 out of 10 (though he rarely grades my cooking below a 9, so I suspect he's biased).

So there remains dinner to cook today. I'm reminded of the three heads of cauliflower in the fridge. Maybe I'll combine them with eggs to make a cauliflower Spanish omelette. The possibilities are intriguing.



gordsellar said...

Ha, with that much cauliflower, I'd be pulled by the gravity well of India and be cranking out some allo gobi... if I had a few potatoes, that is.

As for the Asian Twist Hot Dogs, I was leery at first, but you're talking proper sausage, and now, I find myself fighting... Must... save... smoky... sausage... for... Gumbo 2.0... gahhhhh...

Anne said...

Oh! Aloo gobi! Thank you for the tip.

Yeah, I don't like frankfurters, but sriracha and Andouille sausage seemed like the perfect match. :)

gordsellar said...

Ah, yeah, aloo gobi is wonderful stuff. I love it.

And yeah, your post got one of my housemates jonesing for fancy dogs, so... we'll see... one thing they have plenty of in Ho Chi Minh City is okay/decent-to-great sausages... at least compared to Seoul.

A Deceit of Lapwings

All happy people are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy people are more or less alike.