New York City Hot Dog

Makes 6 dogs
I can’t tell you how many times my sons used to come home from school, to a delicious meal cooking in the kitchen, only to answer the question “Are you hungry?” with “Not really, I already ate.” It drove me nuts until I learned to replicate the food they love from the outside in our home. Here I’ve put together the classic NYC hot dog, the kind you get at Gray’s Papaya, which apparently my guys frequented even when their pockets were practically empty. Back then, $1.75 would get you two hot dogs and a delicious fresh fruit drink, like papaya or coconut—it’s known as the recession special. Like the ubiquitous street cart New York City hot dog, mine is served on a steamed bun with a red-tinged onion relish and sauerkraut.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 all-beef hot dogs
  • 6 hot dog buns
  • Spicy brown mustard, for serving
  • Quick Kraut


  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown in places, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking, 1 minute more. Stir in tomato paste, red wine vinegar, hot sauce, sugar, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onion relish is thick and glossy.
  2. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a deep-sided skillet. Add hot dogs, reduce heat, keeping water at a bare simmer, and heat through at least 10 minutes, or until ready to serve.
  3. Line a steamer basket with three layers of cheesecloth and place inside a pot with 1/2 inch of boiling water. Place hot dog buns on cheesecloth, cover pot, and steam buns, 2 minutes.
  4. Assemble: Place hot dogs inside buns, top with onion relish, spicy brown mustard, and sauerkraut and serve immediately.
cook's note
Don’t try to get fancy with the bun for this dog—you need a soft, doughy, garden-variety commercial one. They’re meant to be merely the supporting flavor/texture player next to the starring roles of the dogs and condiments.
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