Upgrade Your Picnic Hot Dogs with Stellar Toppings and Sides

Stray Dogs give Fourth of July outdoor eats some major pop.

By Benjamin Tepler June 22, 2015 Published in the July 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Peter Cho and Johnny Leach celebrate Fourth of July cooking year-round. The New York fine dining chefs both recently moved to Portland, then launched a roving pop-up, Stray Dogs, with upper-crust wieners, trashy-delicious sides, and nostalgic ice cream scoops ... in the dead of winter. Their cheeky dinners have helped spark a new hot dog craze in Portland, with sellout crowds wolfing down fancy chile con corn dogs, “buttered popcorn” ice cream, and thin curls of fried onion covered in dehydrated malt vinegar and ranch dust (affectionately called “Fun-Yums”).

We tapped these masters of Independence Day cuisine for three easy ways to add explosive flavor to your holiday picnic. Try a singularly delicious potato salad slicked with Japanese mayo and peppered with seaweed confetti, make a spicy curry jam that adds zing to everyday ballpark franks, and toast up ice cream toppers that can turn any old scoop into summertime heaven. 


Nori Potato Salad
(Serves 8–10)

  • 3 lbs baby red potatoes
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • ¾ cup and 2 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise*
  • 1 tsp togarashi*
  • 2 tsp hot mustard powder 
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • ½ cup nori cut into thin strips 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp salt

SIMMER: Place potatoes in a pot with heavily salted cold water, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Let cool completely.

TOSS: Quarter potatoes, toss with remaining ingredients, and let sit in the refrigerator for at least three hours or overnight before serving. 

*Kewpie, a wildly popular brand of Japanese mayo, and seven-spice chile blend togarashi are available at Asian supermarkets like Uwajimaya and Fubonn.

Curry Jam dogs

Heat 4 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over low heat and sweat 3 large sweet onions, finely diced, stirring occasionally, until they just start to caramelize (about 40 minutes). Add 1 heaping tbsp brown mustard seed and 3 tbsp Madras curry powder and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Increase heat to medium-high, and add ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup water, and 1 cup cider vinegar, cooking until liquid is almost completely reduced, about 10 minutes more, and season with salt to taste. Grill your favorite hot dog and top with curry jam, yogurt, chopped mint, and fried shallots.

“French Toast” Ice Cream Topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend 5 slices Texas toast or Wonder Bread in food processor with 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tbsp sugar, and 2 tbsp melted butter. Toast in oven for 10 minutes, or until dark in color, and sprinkle over coffee ice cream

Pretzel Ice Cream Topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toast 2 cups mini pretzels for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and, while still warm, toss with 2 tbsp melted butter and 2 tsp sugar. Reduce oven to 325 degrees and cook pretzels 10 minutes longer. Let cool, break into pieces, and sprinkle over caramel ice cream.

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