Go gourmet with your hot dogs

Jun 20, 2008 at 12:35 p.m. ET

Hot dogs are an all-American classic for summer barbecues, picnics, and ballgames. No matter what you like on your dog, whether it be mustard, relish, sauerkraut, or ketchup, there is always room for a culinary improvement. At your next hot dog cookout, update the old standby with some gourmet variations.

Hot Dog

Reinventing a classic

Adding new ingredients to make your hot dog experience gourmet is a fun spin on the meaty BBQ classic.

Keep it simple. Keep ingredients simple enough to enjoy what you love about eating a hot dog, but let your variations elevate it with haute new flair.

Go ethnic. Adding ethnic features, like Asian, Greek, or Italian ingredients is a tasty and simple way to give your dogs an update. You can even serve regular dogs with gourmet sides, like these Gourmet French Fries.

Try alternatives. Another option is to serve a variety of different types of dogs. Try hot dogs made of lamb, tofu, or tuna as appealing alternatives to beef dogs.

Make it healthy. Lighter, healthier meats and toppings go hand in hand, if you are diet-conscious. For example, try loading up a tuna dog with veggies for a delicious and healthful option.

Set up a toppings table. Give your family or guests the option to top their own dogs. Set up a toppings table with classic condiments as well as your haute additions.

Haute Hot Dog Recipes

Spicy Tuna Dogs

Makes 4 servings

2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 piece (1/2-inch long) ginger root, peeled and minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna, minced
4 hot dog buns

2 tablespoons prepared wasabi mayonnaise
1/3 cup prepared kimchi
2 tablespoons pickled ginger

1. Combine green onions, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, olive oil, and tuna in a large bowl.

2. Arrange a square piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Spoon 1/4 of the tuna mixture onto one side of the plastic wrap and roll up and twist the ends. Continue with the rest of the tuna mixture. Chill for 30 minutes.

3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear tuna dogs carefully on all sides until your preferred degree of doneness, about 2 minutes per side. Carefully move dogs to buns and garnish with wasabi mayonnaise, kimchi, and pickled ginger, if desired.

Note: Wasabi mayonnaise, kimchi, and pickled ginger can be found in the Asian section of most large grocery stores.

Grecian Lamb Dogs

Makes 4 servings

4 (4 ounces each) lamb sausage links
4 poppy seed buns
1/2 cup each prepared tzatziki
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
10 (1/4-inch thick) cucumber slices, halved
2 pickled pepperoncini peppers, drained, thinly sliced
1 plum tomato, halved, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped onions

1. Heat grill over medium heat. Grill sausages until cooked thoroughly and browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Place sausages in buns and spread with tzatziki. Sprinkle on olives, cheese, cucumber, pepperoncini, tomato, and onions.

Hoisin Glazed Tofu Dogs

Makes 4 servings

1 (14 to 16 ounce) package extra-firm tofu
1 (1-inch long) piece ginger root, peeled, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Chinese hot mustard
1 small carrot, julienned
1/4 cucumber, seeded, sliced thinly
1/4 cup prepared kimchi, chopped
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 sesame-seed hot dog buns
8 medium/hot peppers, drained, optional

1. Place tofu on a clean kitchen towel and wrap towel around tofu to cover. Place a heavy skillet or another weighted object on top and let drain (a plate with a bag of beans also works well). Once drained, slice tofu in 8 strips.

2. Combine the ginger, garlic, hoisin, and 1/4 cup of mustard in a bowl. Toss tofu into mixture and coat well. Let marinate for 2 hours.

3. In a small bowl, mix together carrot, cucumber, kimchi, and sesame seeds and set aside. Heat grill to medium-low heat. Place tofu strips on grill and cook on all sides until charred, about 8 minutes. Season with salt.

4. Spread remaining mustard on buns and place two tofu strips on each bun. Top with cucumber salad and peppers if desired.

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