Your Next Hot Dog Deserves a Bánh Mì Treatment

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Image for article titled Your Next Hot Dog Deserves a Bánh Mì Treatment

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

This is an urgent hot dog public service announcement: You need to bánh mì your next dog. Immediately. Forget the mustard and the relish, and prep some pickled daikon and carrots instead. This is, legitimately, the best way to eat a hot dog. After I was done rubbing my belly from happiness, I was actually pretty angry that I didn’t try it earlier and because I care about you, I want to save you from the same self-irritation. A Bánh mì-ed dog is officially my favorite way to eat a hot dog and I’ll never turn back.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of devouring bánh mì, allow me to introduce you. Bánh mì is a wonderfully balanced, flavor-packed, Vietnamese sandwich. Different versions abound but the chief ingredients are consistent. It’s usually made with a marinated meat (often grilled pork or chicken), sliced cucumber, pickled daikon radish and carrots, sprigs of cilantro, a smear of pâté, and mayo (or other sauce), all securely nestled into a split baguette. What you end up experiencing is each of the five pillars of flavor in one sandwich–umami, from the marinated meat; salty, from the sauce; sweet and sour, from the pickled daikon and carrots; and bitter, from the cilantro. While pâté is traditional, it’s not on every iteration of bánh mì, and if it’s not suited to your palate, it can be omitted. I like to top my sandwich with sliced jalapeño but many folks opt for a squirt of sriracha.

The match-up makes perfect sense. Hot dogs are salty, juicy, hand-held, meat sticks that can provide a similar umami balance to the marinated meat in bánh mì. I know the classic hot dog toppings are beloved, but (now, be honest), the summer wiener can get a tad repetitive. Maybe you’re a ketchup girl and you branched-out and tried pickle relish, or you always do mustard but last week you tried cheese. While these explorations are good first steps, it’s time to spread your wings and bánh mì.

A traditional bánh mì uses a baguette for the bread, but if that’s not your vibe you can absolutely stick with the softer packaged hot dog bun. I tried both and, for once, I didn’t have an obvious preference. I thought the pickled veggies would make the hot dog bun soggy, but that was not the case. Of course, things will get messy if you’re silly about it and pour on the pickling juice, but I fished out the pickles with fork, gave a slight shake to remove excess liquid, and dropped it on my dog with no problems. The baguette version was equally as scrumptious. The chewiness of the bread made me slow down a little and bask in the wonderful flavors of the bánh mì dog, and the bread was a little bit taller so I could fit more jalapeños and cucumbers in the bun.

This recipe comes together in about 15 minutes with mostly easy-to-find, staple ingredients. (Note that the picture shows the amount of ingredients I used for prepping two hot dogs, but the following recipe is for four.) Daikon radish is available in asian grocery stores and most other grocery stores with a decent-sized produce section. They add a light flavor to the pickled vegetables that I love, but if you can’t locate them, just go ahead with the carrots.

Image for article titled Your Next Hot Dog Deserves a Bánh Mì Treatment

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Bánh Mì Style Hot Dogs

Ingredients:

  • 4 hot dogs
  • ¼ cup julienned raw carrot
  • ¼ cup julienned raw daikon radish
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt ( ¾ for fine salt)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (use white distilled vinegar for a stronger bite)
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 4 segments of baguette (cut to hot dog length) or standard hot dog buns
  • Mayo (to taste)
  • 4 cilantro (full stems the length of the hot dog)
  • 4 long slices of cucumber
  • Fresh or pickled jalapeño slices or sriracha (optional)

Heat the hot dogs in any manner of preference (maybe even a dirty water dog). While they’re cooking, prepare the pickled root vegetables. Put the julienned carrot and daikon in a bowl or jar, add the salt, sugar, vinegar, and water. Mix slightly to help dissolve salt and sugar. Pickle for 15 minutes. During that time, stir occasionally to rotate the carrots and daikon, ensuring even pickling.

Slice the baguette lengthwise, but don’t go all the way through. Assemble the sandwich by first spreading a bit of mayo into the baguette. Add the hot dog, tuck sliced cucumber onto one side, and pickled veggies into the other side and on top. Add a sprig of cilantro and jalapeños or sriracha, if using. Enjoy immediately. Never look back.

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