Last month’s Bon Appetit feature, “Around the World in 80 Hot Dogs”, really irked me. The editorial staff’s major “brainstorm” for a hotdog topping that screamed “Australia” was mushy peas. MUSHY PEAS? Now, I understand this article was all in fun and wasn’t an anthropological study of hot dog toppings around the globe, but come on! Couldn’t they come up with anything better than mushy peas?
Apparently, these folks haven’t spent much time eating in Australia. The best I can figure, they’ve been to Sydney ‘s W hotel and gone to a pretty popular food cart near there called Harry’s Cafe de Wheels which does sell a hot dog with mushy peas, chili, cheese and some other kitchen sink ingredients. The only other Australian dish that I can think of that features mushy peas, or in this case pea soup, is South Australia’s pie floater. Regardless, these two anecdotes of mushy peas hardly merit making peas a quintessentially Australian hot dog topping.
This being my Aussie husband’s first 4th of July in the States, I decided to come up with my own hot dog toppings based on popular Australian tastes, and personally, I think they’re much better than Bon Appetit’s suggestion.
Hot dog with tomato-ginger-chilli jam & coriander (aka cilantro)
Hot dog with beetroot-pineapple relish, pineapple and bacon
The tomato ginger chilli jam topping is my take on Modern Australian cuisine’s incorporation of Asian flavors and ingredients into every day dishes. This topping is basically a chunky ketchup, but has a spicy kick from dried chiles and the freshness of the coriander (what Aussies call cilantro). To make the jam, I used rice vinegar and a coconut palm sugar with ginger that I got at the Willunga Farmer’s market from the spice purveyor. I also added onion and dried, crushed red chiles and I was good to go. The jam was a killer topping and I loved the cilantro, although if you’re not a fan, you can certainly leave it off.
For the other hot dog topping, I incorporated ingredients used to top an Aussie Burger with the Lot
(minus cheese, egg and salad). I made a beetroot-pineapple relish by grating fresh beets and combining them with a few pineapple chunks, chopped red onion, some pineapple juice, liquid from some pickled beets I made earlier this week, a tablespoon of Kangaroo Island Tea Tree honey and a pinch of mustard powder. I cooked it until the liquids evaporated and the beet had softened some but still had a pleasing crunch. I topped the relish with some more pineapple chunks and crumbled bacon. This was my husband’s favorite of the two toppings.
The other reason this was so much better than BA’s suggestion of using tinned mushy peas (which honestly, I’ve never seen any Australian eating unless they were super drunk eating a pie floater), is that these toppings were so much fun to create and play around with. I can’t wait until next year when I try making a hot dog-meat pie combo!