4th of July Special: Japadog

You don’t have to be a baseball enthusiast, culinary critic, or a morbidly obese person to realize that hot-dogs are truly an all-American favourite – especially on the 4th of July. Nothing spells freedom and democracy better than biting into a big, juicy stick of mystery meat not because you have to, but because you choose to. You’d be surprised to know, though, that hot-dogs are by no means a domestic invention, especially not the one I’ll be cooking up today.

Hot dogs have certain inalienable qualities that have made them a food of choice for rich and poor alike. For one thing, hot dogs taste good no matter what they consist of – and trust me when I say that you’re better off not knowing what’s in them to begin with. Secondly, they’re versatile, they last a long time in your fridge, and you can literally eat them any time of the day. The sky is the limit when it comes to hot dogs, and that’s why they’re so damn popular all around the world, or at least in all the airports I’ve visited going to and from places.

Recently, however, a rather unwanted quality has become commonplace when serving hot dogs in the street, one from which neither vendors nor customers benefit very much from in my opinion. That’s right, I’m talking about the price that these suckers are sold at these days. They’re expensive, taste like crap, and lack the certain bang-for-buck they’ve been known to be famous for – and it’s disappointing.

When it comes to keeping it real, no one does it as well as Costco does and I’m happy that their CEO chose hot dogs to be the food that defies inflation. The beauty of their product is that you get more than you pay for, a universal recipe for success (let alone that you can buy the dogs they serve in store!). Go out on the streets of Vancouver, though, and you’re looking at a landscape where a single hot-dog goes for as much as a Supersized Big Mac Meal. It’s not just a Canadian problem either – I’m looking at you Portland, OR. It’s bullshit and I’m having none of it.

Admittedly, some of these dogs do deserve the price tags they’re assigned, but as a matter of principle I cannot support a vendor that charges me an arm and a leg for something that can be considered an upgrade from ramen noodles – especially if I have to wait in line for it. At Japadog, however, that is the norm.

For those that don’t know what a Japadog is, Japadog is a Japanese style hot dog vendor famous in Vancouver for selling some of the best damn hot dogs this city has ever tasted. They fit right into the hot dog and sushi lover niche that has apparently taken a hold of our beautiful city, but I digress, because this is about the 4th of July.

So long story short, I want to show you how to recreate an all-American favourite food invented by Germans over 500 years ago, brought to the US 120 years ago, refined by the Japanese nearly 10 years ago, and made by an Iranian living in Canada for your viewing pleasure. If that’s not the spirit of the 4th of July, then you clearly need to be fed democracy by force. So here it goes:


Hot dogs are not hard to make, regardless of your cooking abilities. In fact only recently did I catch my cat boiling a hot dog in the middle of the night – it’s that easy. So instead of babying you through the easy bits, let me explain what sets the food-matter aspect of the dog apart from the taste factor.

Obviously, when making high-grade hot dogs, either make them from scratch or spend a little more money and get the ones without the added sawdust and pigs-anus. Super-important if you want it to taste good and not make you sick. I’ve found Costco to be a fail-safe option, especially because their all-beef Polish Sausages have a distinct garlic taste to them. And yes, size does matter, especially if you want it to really fill you up (pun or no pun, this needed to be said).

Equally important to the quality of the sausage is the bun. I like my buns to be soft and lightly floured, but if your fancy ass wants good old sesame seeds with an aftertaste of regret, go ahead. With that out of the way, here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients (per hot dog)

  • 1 Hot dog sausage
  • 1 Bun
  • 2 slices of Bacon
  • Seaweed (preferably dried Sushi Nori although roasted seaweed works too)
  • Mustard of your choice
  • Japanese Mayonnaise

2014-05-31 16.41.51The key to making it taste like Japadog is to have the Japanese mayonnaise and the right seaweed.

The first step to our adventure is to slow-cook some bacon and to score the hot dog to allow for expansion and proper cooking. I say slow cook because you want all the oil to really drain out of your bacon without losing its flexibility.

2014-05-31 16.44.58 You can never go wrong with this much bacon. Ever. 2014-05-31 16.46.02These buns differ from traditional ones because they’re much softer and lighter. Think of brioche buns – that’s what they taste like.

Next pan-fry your sausages in a little bit of vegetable oil – making sure to rotate them every minute or so. Think of how 7Eleven prepares their hot dogs and try and emulate that.

2014-05-31 16.48.342014-05-31 16.56.50

Meanwhile grab your seaweed and cut it into tiny strips. It’s difficult as hell, don’t be dissuaded by that.

2014-05-31 16.49.44Remember this stuff from my Sushi post? It’s from the exact same batch. 2014-05-31 16.52.55Looks easy, but unless you have a super-sharp knife this task is as daunting as counting blades of grass.

I got tired of cutting seaweed with a dull knife so I put this through my pasta maker. Perfectly shredded.

2014-05-31 16.55.03I can guarantee you that unless you’re an iron chef, you’ll never get them this perfect unless you use a pasta maker.

Next, toast the insides of your bun and garnish it with a strip of mustard.

2014-05-31 16.58.34 2014-05-31 16.58.47If you don’t shake the damn mustard bottle first, you’ll end up ruining you hot-dog. Amateur.

When your slow-cooked bacon is done, dry it on a paper towel and immediately paste it to the walls of your hot dog. I like to call this the flavor-barrier.

2014-05-31 17.01.57 I don’t see bacon. I see a star spangled banner of freedom.2014-05-31 17.04.06I could make all kinds of innuendos here, but pictures are worth a million words.

When your hot dogs are nice and cooked, with a little bit of crispy around the edges, get them out and put them between the bacon.

2014-05-31 17.04.37

The next couple of steps are self-explanatory.

2014-05-31 17.04.50 2014-05-31 17.05.02Zig-zagging not only makes it look nice, is gives the seaweed more surface area to attach to. And they say you will never use math in real life – pffff.2014-05-31 17.05.35The Japanese mayonnaise is available in places like Wholefoods. It tastes infinitely better than regular mayo.

The Result

And there it is, your very own 4th of July Japadog. When eaten correctly, you’ll first get a taste of the soft bread on your tongue, followed by an explosion of mustard, mayonnaise, bacon and sausage – perfectly enhanced by the inherent crunchiness of the seaweed. Pair that with a your favourite beverage and you can enjoy the fireworks outside with some fireworks in your own mouth.
2014-05-31 17.06.04 2014-05-31 17.06.56

So, would I make it again? Absolutely. Hot dogs are easy to make, they taste decent, and if you put a little bit of effort into them you can turn them into full-blown gourmet meals. Although this may not be an exact replica of a Japadog menu-item, it serves more as a proof of concept – the concept being that you don’t have to shell out a fortune just to enjoy something so easy at heart. Plus, serve this at your 4th of July BBQ and you may just become the coolest person in the neighbourhood on the cheap. All-in-all this took me 15 minutes to make, including taking pictures and cleaning up.

As always, feel free to comment below or follow me on facebook and twitter to find out what my next crazy project is. Don’t forget to eat responsibly!



  • Abdi Ehteshami July 4, 2014 Reply

    It really looks fantastic and I’m sure it tastes good as we’ll. I’ll try to make it. Just need to find a decent quality hot dog sausage in Dubai.

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