My Street Food: Hot Dogs, Perros Calientes!

perros calientes hot dog cartoon
Illustration by:
Wendys Guardia &
Raúl Rodríguez

I love street food.  I know people get a bit nervous on the clean aspect of hot dog carts and food carts in general, but that’s something I try not to think about, if not, I’ll only end up eating at home.  Of course one can also do research to see inspections of food carts and restaurants, but in the end, you always take a risk when you eat outside of your home.

Now back to the fun part!

Three features I always look for in a hot dog:
– steamed or grilled warmed buns (potato bread, or J’s favorite: challah bread)
– delicious options for hot sauce (ají chombo Sistá, Cholulas or Sriracha)
– a crunchy texture (raw cabbage, chips, salted toasted nuts!)

panamanian street hot dog

I’m not sure about the price of a hot dog from a food cart back in Panama but I remember getting one after school for 25-35 cents depending on the size.  There were these ‘Colombian’ style huge hot dogs I’d buy on Saturdays at $1.00 and that’s when I tried pineapple for the first time on my hot dog. It was love at first sight!

While working at Lyon hall I was lucky to learn a few trades, making our own hot dog buns, sauerkraut, mustard and frankfurters. It was an art, brushing butter on the bun, toasting it while the sausage is almost done in the grill. It was such a delightful feeling, plating the dog different options for mustard.

There are many things I learned from Chef Andy at Lyon Hall such as pickling and making the best dressing and mustards. I’d be looking forward to the change of the season just to see which mustard he was going to create; rhubarb, strawberry, cherry, peach, bacon caramelized onion, stout, classic yellow, grape, I mean he made amazing types of mustard with every single fruit that was available.

panamanian street hot dogs

It drives me nuts when I go to a place that only offers the boring French’s yellow mustard, or worse, when they offer a Hot dog inside of a cold bun, what’s going on?!

I know it’s a cultural thing, maybe? People eating cold cookies, cold muffins, sandwiches and hot dogs. The only cold sandwiches I love are egg salad, chicken tuna or their vegetarian versions with chickpeas. Don’t you dare giving me a cold club sandwich, or a hot dog in a cold bun.

You don’t need to eat hot dogs my way, but if you want to give it a try, these are two of my favorite hot dogs:

tropical hot dog

Tropical Hot dog

Pineapple Marmalade (I make a relish with mango too!)
Cheese (queso fresco or cheddar)
Potato chips
Jalapeños or hot sauce
Bun & Hot Dog Link

vegetarian hot dogs lightlife

Traditional Hot Dog (pic above is actually vegetarian & in challah bread!)

Cabbage, chopped
White onion, chopped (this time I used scallions)
Bun & Hot Dog Link

For vegetarians, I recommend the Lightlife brand. I’ve fried the link and added smoked salt for a kick, J loves it.

What goes in your hot dog?

¡a comer!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *