I’ve never ever met a hot dog i didn’t like. Grilled, pan-fried, boiled in the dirty water that a new York City street cart, even microwaved: As long as those pink rods the questionable provenance room wrapped through one form of cheap white bread or another and drowning in a mix of spicy brown mustard and neon eco-friendly relish, ns eating. Yet not all hot dogs sate my craving for bad meat equally, and also in fact only one kind ever leaves me truly satisfied: That would certainly be the increasingly elusive steamed warm dog.

Steamed warm dogs and boiled warm dogs share part characteristics—neither make direct call with chef surfaces in direct call with a coil or flame, and so as soon as finished each appear as pale as they were prior to cooking—but they space not the same. If boiled hot dogs can split in the water and become waterlogged and slimy, steamed warm dogs stay juicy top top the inside and dry top top the outside.

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I can not remember the an initial grilled or pan-fried or boiled or microwaved hot dog i ate, however I have actually vivid memory of my an initial steamed hot dog. Ns was five years old, and I had actually just finished my first skating lesson at Henry Graf Jr. Memorial Skating Rink in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The concessions stand—framed by, appropriately, mustard-yellow cinder blocks—was equipped through a stainless-steel-and-glass hot dog steamer, the front of which was emblazoned v cartoon warm dogs.


My father ordered three—one for me, one because that my brother, and also one for himself—and dressed lock all v mustard. Ns didn’t understand then that putting ketchup top top a warm dog to be tantamount come treachery, and I don’t think I’d ever eaten a warm dog without it till the point. Yet the mix of steamed warm dog (and the steamed bun, which to be warm and also pillowy but not wet), snappy organic casing, and mustard was a brand-new version that the sublime.

Hot dog steamers space a an easy piece of engineering. In ~ the bottom there is a heating mechanism—typically a steel coil, however sometimes live flames room involved—situated directly below a water chamber. The cook box, which has actually holes at the bottom for heavy steam to climb through, sits over the water chamber and also is often separated in half: one side because that buns, one next for hot dogs. The heating device heats the water; vapor rises native the water chamber and also fills the chef box; vapor cooks the hot dogs and softens the buns. The best versions have slanted doors atop the cook box that straight condensation far from the buns and hot dogs. Remember: dried bread good; soggy bread gross.

Hot dog steamers appeared ubiquitous once—there wasn’t a convenience keep or gas terminal or concessions stand the didn’t have actually one. Yet now they all favor commercial hot dog rollers (this is what they’re in reality called), which turn out a product closer in structure to a Slim Jim 보다 a hot dog. The vendors in the grandstand at Fenway Park still hawk steamed warm dogs, however I can not justify safety $80 ~ above a ticket to acquire my fix. Baseball is also the worst sport unless you’re drunk, and at $10 a beer, getting drunk at Fenway isn’t feasible either.

America’s dearth the steamed hot dogs is all the an ext depressing when compared with Montreal’s glut—the city loves steamed dog so lot that the once dedicated an entire week, in the dead the winter, to celebrating them. Known as steamies (or steamés), steamed warm dogs space the preferred variety in Montreal. They’re cooking on a steam table and topped with coleslaw. (Note: not through sauerkraut!) I dubbed Tom Vriniotis—the second-generation owner of the beloved Montreal haunt Décarie hot Dogs—to asking why steamies room so popular in his city.

“Maybe it’s due to the fact that we have wealth of water in Montreal, because we love to steam and cook everything,” joked Vriniotis. “It’s the an approach that’s been used traditionally here. It produces a hot dog with a much better texture. That fluffier, and also it’s juicier, too…. The difference between a steam dog and also a grilled dog is choose the difference in between a juicy burger that is dripping everywhere and also a well-done burger that has the structure of rubber.”

Probably none of this tubed-meat anguish would have manifested chin if ns hadn’t required to drinking old-fashioneds at Harry’s new York Bar while living in Paris in my late 20s. Ns was attracted to the spot by its history as one expat bar—Hemingway drank there, and I’m a cliché—but ns was sold on it once I noticed a stainless-steel-and-glass box resting on the center of the bar. I uncovered very an excellent drinks and much American nostalgia at Harry’s, but most crucially I found steamed hot dogs slathered with spicy brown mustard.

I ate too many of those hot dogs the couple years I stayed in Paris—I required them!—but as soon as I moved ago Stateside I uncovered myself, yet again, without. I’ve entertained to buy a hot dog steamer because that my countertop—it would be a much better investment 보다 the critical kitchen appliance i bought—but the price sign has always proved a strong deterrent: safety $250 (which is about 10 times my yearly hot dog budget) on other I’d usage maybe 4 times a year would be a significant waste the change. Now, i opt to cook my hot dogs. Not as satisfying together steamed hot dogs, but far better than the alternatives.

I’ve had some success v hacking a hot dog steamer in ~ home—placing warm dogs in a colander over boiling water and covering them v aluminum foil renders for a decent if not precise analog. (I expect one could also use a stovetop steamship basket to achieve the same results, however I don’t very own one and also so can not speak to this method’s efficacy.) Nathan’s well known has ideas about steaming warm dogs on its website, yet the recipe calls because that browning on every sides. Steamed hot dogs must not it is in brown; steamed warm dogs need to be the shade of Bazooka balloon gum.

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Nathan’s recipe likewise calls because that steaming the warm dogs in the water (which is referred to as boiling in many circles)—this an approach would no doubt command to all of the same woes of boil (burst casing, wet rolls because of residual water left on hot dogs).

Short of moving earlier to Paris or acquisition up residency in Montreal or dropping a mint on a sporting event I nothing enjoy—or being the person who solves time travel—life will have to go on greatly void of steamed hot dogs, a reality that raises the question: Is a life without constant access to steamed hot dogs a life precious living?