18/04/2006

Icelandic hot dogs

I recently got this request (through my book blog):

“I read the recipes from Iceland. I was wondering if you have recipes for the hot dog toppings for a hot dog with the works? We visited there last June and loved them, but couldn't figure out how to make them ourselves!?”

A hot dog with the works includes ketchup, remoulade, French fried onions and mustard, sometimes also raw onions.

Here is part of an essay I wrote about hot dogs:

The basics of an Icelandic hot dog:

Icelandic hot dog sausages are made from a mixture of pork, lamb and beef. The fat content is quite high, as you can see if you grill or fry one. They are flavourful and I like them better than any other hot dog sausages. Having run an Icelandic food website in English for several years, I can attest that they are the subject I get the biggest number of e-mails about from abroad, all of them positive, and most of them asking where they can order some.

The bun is a regular hot dog bun: sweet, soft, light and white.

The condiments are varied, but the most popular ones, the ones you get if you order eina með öllu (“one with the works”, or in Icelandic-English: “one with everything”) are:

Remoulade. This is an originally French sauce meant to be used with fish (we also love it with roast beef). The basic recipe is mayonnaise mixed with capers, mustard, herbs, anchovies, and gherkins, but I think the Icelandic version leaves out the anchovies. At any rate, no one makes it at home because of all the work involved.

Ketchup. We used to use sweet, locally made ketchup that contained, among other things, apple sauce, but these days it’s usually the imported, tart type.

Mustard. If it’s “one with everything”, it will be Icelandic Pylsusinnep (“hot dog mustard”), brown and not too bitter, or sweet yellow hot dog mustard. In addition, you may find Dijon and hot mustard, but not on an “ein með öllu”.

French fried onions. These are crisp and flavourful and add a good crunch to the hot dog (plus onion burps afterwards).

This is the classic “ein með öllu”. Purists claim that for it to be a true “ein með öllu”, you also need raw, chopped onions, but this is only for the brave and not recommended if you have a bad stomach or intend to kiss someone.

At any rate, these are the condiments you will find everywhere they sell pylsur.

And now for the extras:

Kokkteilsósa, or cocktail sauce. An Icelandic invention and distant relative of seafood cocktail sauce. The home-made version is made from mayonnaise and ketchup. More elaborate versions add sour cream, a bit of mustard and a touch of garlic. Great with French fries (indeed, some Icelanders will not eat fries without kokkteilsósa), fried fish and roast chicken. Some also like it with hot dogs.
Here’s a recipe

Salsa, chilli sauce, both hot and sweet, garlic sauce, hot dog relish and green (cucumber) relish. Relative newcomers on the hot dog scene, and quite popular with the crowd who will try anything.

Pickled red cabbage. Especially popular in Akureyri (capital of the north), where the idea is thought to originate. As does the hotly debated (among purists) addition of French fries. I’m not referring to a hot dog with fries on the side, but a hot dog with fries stuffed in the bun. Called Akureyringur (person/thing from Akureyri) among the rest of the nation (as are hamburgers with fries in the bun). “

Now for the “recipes”:

For the ketchup you can use regular supermarket ketchup (Hunt’s, Libby’s, Heinz, whatever). The hot dog ketchup some Icelandic hot dog sellers use is slightly sweeter than those brands, but many just use Hunt’s or Libby’s.

The mustard is a bit more complicated, but sweet French mustard will do, or use Dijon if you want it hotter.

The French fried onions should be available in a good supermarket, which leaves the remoulade. The problem is that there are hundreds of recipes, and I have never made even one of them, so I don’t know which one most resembles the Icelandic type. You can try the following, but I can not promise it will taste the same.

Remoulade Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. drained, finely chopped cucumber pickle
1 tbsp. drained, chopped capers
2 tsp. French mustard
1 tsp. finely chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp. chervil
1/2 tsp. anchovy paste

Combine the ingredients, mixing well and refrigerate. Serve with cold meat, poultry, fish or hot dogs.


Of course, this leaves the sausages, which are rather special. I'm afraid it just won't taste the same without Icelandic hot dog sausages...