After my first post on Filipino spaghetti, I was pretty satisfied with myself and didn’t really have a desire to make drastic changes to my methods. But during my appearance on Kababayan LA last week, I told host Jannelle So that I had Martin PureFoods red hot dogs in hand and was ready to make a more “authentic” version of Filipino spaghetti. Over the weekend, I dropped by Island Pacific Market in Union City and picked up two more items—a bottle of Jufran banana sauce (ketchup, really) and a blue can of Kraft Cheddar “Cheese” (or as a reader called it…”Krap Chis”)—to complete the Holy Trinity of Filipino Spaghetti.
UPDATE: Check out my Filipino Spaghetti 2.0 post for another version of this dish)
Filipinos love spaghetti…so much so that it’s a staple at fast-food restaurants in the Philippines, including American franchises like KFC and Wendy’s. The Philippines biggest fast-food chain, Jollibee, offers burgers, fried chicken and spaghetti under one roof, and lucky for me, there’s a bunch of them here in California.
Filipino spaghetti is sweeter than a traditional Italian spaghetti, usually from the addition of sugar or banana ketchup to the sauce. It’s other defining characteristic is hot dogs, which sounds weird to non-Pinoys, but it acts as a salty counterpoint to the sweet sauce. (I always knew there was a reason I was partial to Spaghetti O’s with Sliced Franks when I was a kid.)
I generally freestyle my spaghetti, but I always start with a plain sauce (like canned Hunt’s or Del Monte) to use as a base since other ingredients are going to be added. A friend who makes her own excellent version of Filipino spaghetti swears by Prego. I prefer using sugar as a sweetener instead of banana ketchup since it’s something I always have on hand.
We’ve been doing these Chicago eating binges with our friend Maria, which allows us to do a lot more sampling than if it was just me and my wife. This is why we can order four different sausages at Hot Doug’s without feeling too guilty.
Chicago-style hot dogs differ from other styles of hot dogs because they generally include mustard, onions, an artificially colored neon-green relish, tomato slices, and a pickle spear, all served on a poppy seed bun. I made sure that all of our orders had everything on it, although this may have been a tactical mistake on the bratwurst, which I would have like to have tried with just sauerkraut. The bratwurst was still excellent since it was very juicy, probably because it’s soaked in beer. We also had The Elvis, a smoked polish sausage, and The Dog (below), a traditional Chicago-style hot dog.
But the best hot dog of the day was the spicy hot dog known as The Keira Knightly. What I liked about the Keira was that the spicy dog had a nice heat that balanced out the other flavors that were packed into the dog, especially the sweet relish. The other dogs were good, but Keira’s relative hotness separated it from the pack.
The menu described the Keira Knightly as “mighty hot,” but I thought it was a pleasant, mild heat. By comparison, the andouille sausage known as The Salma Hayak (which we didn’t order) is said to be “mighty, mighty, mighty hot.” If this is true, then Salma is hotter than Keira both in hot dogs and real life.
Still, as good as the hot dogs were, they were nearly eclipsed by an even more impressive concoction…duck fat fries. That’s right…french fries fried in duck fat. I shouldn’t have to say anything more, so here:
There’s a quote on the wall at Hot Doug’s by someone named Secret Robbie that says:
There are no two finer words in the English language than “encased meats,” my friend.
Memorial Weekend is one of the most patriotic American holidays, so when we decided to have some friends over yesterday, I decided that I wanted to make bacon hot dogs. My friends don’t normally eat street food, so I thought I’d bring street food to them, and seriously, what’s more American than bacon and hot dogs? Truth be told, the bacon hot dog has its roots as street food in Mexico, but it also has a strong cult-like following in California. You can even get arrested for selling bacon hot dogs in L.A. as I’ve discussed here and here.
We normally have Niman Ranch thick-cut bacon in the fridge, but I got a tip from a friend that cheap bacon works better for this purpose because it’s thinner and easier to wrap around the hot dog. It also doesn’t add extra girth to the hot dog that would prevent the bun from closing.
I ended up using Oscar Meyer bun-length hot dogs and Bar S bacon. Next time, I’m going to try a different brand of bacon because the Bar S bacon didn’t have a very strong flavor. Otherwise, it was very easy to wrap the bacon around the hot dog. Simply wrap the bacon around itself at the end of the hot dog to hold it in place and then move down diagonally until the rest of the hot dog is covered. The process reminded me of regripping my tennis rackets back in the day.
I also had some meat glue (i.e. Activa TG-RM or transglutaminase) on hand, so I made a slurry and I brushed it on the hot dogs before wrapping them with bacon and refrigerating them to let the “glue” set. If you have access to some Activa, by all means use it.
I first wrote about the Los Angeles Bacon Hot Dog War in February, and now comedian Drew Carey has joined the food fight, featuring the ongoing controversy on The Drew Carey Project on Reason.tv. Here’s Drew Carey’s report on the issue, including an interview with Elizabeth Palacios, the figurehead in this struggle.
The main problem for licensed vendors like Palacios is that they lose a lot of money when potential customers seek out the unlicensed vendors, who are more than happy to sell them the coveted bacon hot dogs. For Palacios, it’s walking the fine line between protecting her business and staying out of jail. For customers, it’s all about the bacon.
“They don’t care about if you’re cleaner, if you don’t have a license to handle the food,” Palacios said. “They just want the bacon.”
I had my very first bacon dog right on Hollywood Blvd. I walked out of a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and this amazing smell overcame me, and I said, “Goddamn! What smells so good?” This guy on the stairs pointed me toward this woman selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs from a sidewalk cart. Let’s just say that I bought and devoured one immediately.
Folks in San Francisco may want to claim the bacon dog cart (above) as their own because they’re pretty popular with weekend drunks leaving bars and clubs after 10pm in the Mission District. The truth is, bacon-wrapped hot dogs really belong to L.A., and you can get them from lunchtime till the wee hours of the morning (if you know where to look).
But things are not good for the bacon hot dog cart vendors in La-La Land. The L.A. Weekly recently chronicled the plight of hot dog vendors in L.A., who are now forbidden from using bacon AND grilling their hot dogs. (Boiling and steaming are the only acceptable cooking methods.)
They’ve actually jailed hot dog vendors like Elizabeth Palacios, who is featured in the article, for selling grilled bacon hot dogs. Palacios once served 45 days for health code violations, a sentence she said was orchestrated to “make an example” of her.
From the article:
“Honestly, I can tell you, I’ve been a working person all my life, I’ve worked since I was 9 years old,” Palacios says. “I don’t like being bothered, I don’t like being arrested. Never in my life had I been to jail, and they threw me in jail for violating the laws of the health department.”
There’s also a racial element to this story as the City of Los Angeles tries to revitalize and gentrify the downtown area and likely considers it in their best interests to “clean up” downtown for future investment and development.
“They told me, ‘The mayor wants to make this area like New York, Times Square,’ but I told them, ‘Who told him we want that? The people who come here are not like that.’ Ninety-nine percent of the people here are mexicanos. Here, you don’t really see americanos. One or two,” she says. “Why are they coming now to get us out of here? Why the abuse? Why the abuse?”
What’s worse is that while licensed hot dog vendors see the business suffer due to the restrictions, fees, and threats placed on them by overzealous city health inspectors, police and gangs, they have to watch their customers flock to the illegal bacon hot dog carts that have flourished since the ban, serving a customer base that probably doesn’t care where they come from…they just want their bacon dogs.
Will there ever be justice for the L.A.’s bacon hot dog vendors?
UPDATE: Drew Carey joins the fight.