I was introduced to Seattle dogs when my wife and I started going into Seattle to watch the Sounders. We would park in SODO, an area just south of central Seattle, and walk north to the fields.
On game days, parking would cost way too much money, seedy bars would have lines out their doors, and Occidental Ave – the long strip of roadway running from T-Mobile Park past Lumen Field – would be shut down to all but foot traffic, and lined with street vendors. Many of those carts, food trucks and tents would have Seattle dogs on offer, and when we became season ticket holders they became part of our game-day tradition.
Seattle dogs sound weird – I’ll give you that – but they’re ingenious, and delicious.
The basic Seattle dog starts with a toasted bun, which is slathered with a smear of cream cheese (often applied with a sort of trowel by a street vendor), and topped with a generous scoop of grilled onions, and a jumbo dog or polish sausage.
While I often add some hot peppers and/or a streak of mustard or bbq sauce, the basic Seattle dog is great on it’s own. The dog is rich and juicy, with some tasty grill marks. The cream cheese is obviously creamy, but it adds a depth of salty flavor that you would never otherwise realize it was lacking. Finally the onions lend a light tanginess, a sweetness, and a bit of texture. Stuff it all in a soft bun, and you’ve got a delicious pre-game meal.
The absolute beauty of the Seattle dog is in it’s simplicity. It’s wonderful to pick one up before a game, but they’re also so easy to make on your own.
What you’ll need:
- Your favorite hot dogs
- Cream cheese
- An onion, sliced into thin strips
- Cooking oil/grill spray
- salt and pepper
- Other toppings, if you so desire
How to get it done:
- Slice up that onion, and place a skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil (vegetable oil has a more neutral flavor than olive oil) and wait for it to heat up.
- Add the onions to the hot oil, throw in a pinch each of salt and pepper, and make sure to stir them around.
- Now you have to figure out if you want to grill or caramelize your onions. Grilled onions (the way to go for a traditional Seattle dog) are sweet, tangy and crunchy. Caramelized onions are sweet, can be easily flavored with other things, and take MUCH longer to make.
- To grill: cook the onions over medium or medium high heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions will get soft, a little charred, and will be sweet but still little “oniony”
- To caramelize: cook the onions over LOW heat for a long time (like 45 minutes to an hour),stirring them periodically, which allows the natural sugars to be drawn out and cook down (caramelize), and develop that sweet, deep flavor. You can also add the likes of additional butter, sugar, vinegar, or wine to aid in the development of flavor.
- As the onions cook, cook your hotdogs, toast the buns, and get out your remaining ingredients.
- Spread a generous dollop of cream cheese on the inside of a toasted bun.
- Place the cooked dog in the bun, and top it with a scoop of onions.
- If you want an extra something, I recommend adding something spicy, like a good brown mustard, zesty bbq or hot sauce, or sriracha.
- Enjoy, preferably with a beer or two!