sesame seeds

Celebrating the Mighty Little Sesame Seed

The mighty sesame seed has been an integral part of many important dishes throughout the world for centuries. One of the oldest oilseed crops known, sesame seeds are thought to have been domesticated more than 3,000 years ago.

White sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, and brown sesame seeds. Roasted, crushed, and made in to oils. Sweet or savory dishes…you name it. In the Middle East, the crushed sesame seeds make the creamy tahini that used to make hummus, Israeli halvah, and Tahini sauce for falafel. Roasted sesame oil is an essential component in and over a lot of iconic dishes in Asia. In southern China, black sesame seeds are crushed with rice to make black sesame soup, a staple of dim sum. Roasted sesame seeds are also used to coat “Greek sesame seed bagels” called koulouri, and Italian and Danish bread sticks. They also blend with other seeds to make crunchy seed toppings like Egypt’s dukkah.

Explore this magnificent little seed and its many forms by cooking the dishes that have counted on it to make them famous:

A South African Braai

“Ons gaan nou braai!” Afrikaner saying

It means “a braai is not a barbecue”. Braai (bray), is a South African cultural institution. Like the Argentinean asada, American backyard cookout, or Korean gogigui, it is built on community than just an outdoor cookout.

What makes braai so special is that it is all about bringing good friends and family together around a shared celebration. There is always some excuse for holding a braai, whether it’s to celebrate a wedding, birth or death, or just because. Everyone brings meats and sides to share, called “Bring & Braai”, it’s basically the same idea as the North American Potluck.

Meats include beef boerewors and pork sausages, kebabs, chicken and steak with fish and other seafood added on the coasts. Must-have sides include pap (cornmeal porridge), Mieliepap terts (corn-bacon & mushroom pie), garlic bread or braaibroodjies (grilled cheese, tomato and chutney sandwiches), and, of course, chakalaka.

To understand how important braai is to the nation, consider this; it even has its own national holiday dedicated to it on the 24th of September called National Braai Day.

It all started by the Voortrekkers (Afrikaans for “pioneers”), disgruntled Afrikaner farmers descended from the original settlers working for the Dutch East India Company. Unhappy with many aspects of British colonial rule, they migrated east from the then-British occupied Cape Colony off the coast of South Africa in the 1830-40s. They travelled with ox-drawn wagons and horses, which meant they had to pack light. To survive, the nomad farmers had to hunt, shoot, and roast meat on open fires in the open air, and so the culture of braaing (derived from the Dutch word for roast, “braden”) was born. The Bantu peoples who lived in these parts of South Africa at the time had also developed an appreciation for grilled meat. Where cattle were mainly used for the production of milk, they preferred to roast mutton, goat, or game. Another important protein supply were grilled insects such as caterpillars, locusts, and termites. Today, standing around a fire and preparing grilled meat (no insects) is a unifying tradition of South African enjoyed by people across different ethnic backgrounds. Even when you invite friends over for beers, a braai is likely to break out. A basic braai menu might look like this:

SAMPLE SOUTH AFRICAN BRAAI MENU

Pregame

Fire-Baked Dukkah Oysters (grilled oysters)

Broodjie (grilled meat/cheese sandwich)  

Salad

The Heritage Salad (Date, spinach & biltong)

Chakalaka (hot vegetables)

Meats

Boerewors (traditional beef sausage)

Beef Short Ribs (glazed in Coke BBQ sauce)

Sosatie- (curried Lamb and apricot skewers)

Piri-Piri Butterflied Chicken (butterflied chicken in hot sauce) 

Bunny Chow (Curried Pork in hollowed-out Bread Loaf)

Sides

Monkey Gland Sauce (tomato-chutney sauce)

Mieliepap Tert – (Cheesy Cornmeal Pie with bacon & mushrooms)

Mielie (grilled corn on the cob)

Dessert

Melktert (milk tart)

Malva Pudding (warm cream soaked pastry)

The World of Hot Dogs

Americans love a good hot dog—so much so that, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, about 20 billion of them a year, which works out to about 70 hot dogs per person. While you might expect Midwestern grill-masters to buy the most hot dogs, the actual top consumers are Los Angelinos, 34 million pounds (154 million kilograms) a year. The hot dog was probably invented by the person who renamed German dachshund sausages to “hot dogs,” or maybe the first person to create a dedicated soft bun for holding a sausage?

The first recorded hot dog eating contest was in 1972. In that event, the winner ate 14 hot dogs in 12 minutes. In 2021, Nathan’s Famous champion Joey Chestnut won by polishing off 76 hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes.

There is even a list of the correct way to eat a hot dog, including: no ketchup if you’re over the age of 18, no wine pairings, no utensils, and it should take exactly five bites to consume a proper hot dog.

Who invented the hot dog?

It’s hard to say definitively who invented the hot dog, but credit has gone to Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany (the co-founders of Vienna Beef) and Johann Georghehner, a German butcher. No one is entirely sure.

Why are they called franks or wieners?

Hot dogs are called franks, short for frankfurters, because they may have begun in Frankfurt, Germany. Hot dogs are called wieners because they may have begun in Vienna, Austria, which is wien in German.

When was the hot dog invented?

Sausages date all the way back to ancient times, but the hot dog is first found mentioned in print in the late 1800s.

Where was the hot dog invented?

There is no definitive answer, but Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria both take credit for the invention. The modern day hot dog was allegedly created in Brooklyn, NY at Coney Island.

How the hot dog got it’s name?

There are several myths about how the hot dog got its name, but the most likely origin is 19th century college humor, when students would make crude jokes pertaining to the questionable origin of the meat in hot dogs.

Hot dogs are red because sodium nitrite is added to cure the meat, add flavor, and prevent the growth of bacteria. Sodium nitrite is also added to bacon, cold cuts, and Spam.

Hot dog history continues to evolve, as the beloved American treat is enjoyed at home and across the world. Regional versions have arisen from the endless ways to serve a hot dog. In Seattle, top your hot dog with cream cheese. In Alaska, look for reindeer dogs accompanied by Coca-Cola grilled onions. In Iceland, lamb hot dogs (pylsur) are served with onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and remoulade. In Chile, the wildly popular el completo is a hot dog that’s twice the size of the American version, served with chopped tomatoes, avocados, sauerkraut, and a huge dollop of Americans sauce (mayonnaise and ketchup). 

Every region in America has its own take on the hot dog based on local ingredients, history, and preferences. Here’s a few:

The classic New York City hot dog is produced by Sabrett, Nathan’s, or Hebrew National. Never topped with ketchup, these hot dogs are usually finished off with brown mustard and sauerkraut, and/or sweet onions in a tomato-based sauce.

Chicago dogs are made with Vienna Beef. They are steamed and are then tucked into a steamed poppy seed bun and joined by yellow mustard, neon green sweet pickle relish, chopped white onions, sliced tomato, a dill pickle spear, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. No more, no less.

In the Detroit area, Coney dogs are a major regional specialty, except that they’re eerily similar to the West Coast chili dog. Natural casing beef or beef and pork German-style wieners are topped with a slightly soupy, flavorful beef heart-based chili sauce, yellow mustard, and raw white onions. 

Mexican Sonoran Hot Dog can be found primarily in Arizona and neighboring Sonora, Mexico. This hot dog burrito is a bacon-wrapped hot dog that’s cooked on a grill or griddle before being tucked into a bun and topped with a combination of beans, grilled and fresh onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeno salsa, and crema.

Seattle DogGriiled hot dogs a served in soft buns coated with cream cheese and topped with caramelized onion, and mustard. Sauerkraut or sliced jalapeno peppers are sometimes added.

Red Hot (Texas Pop Open) or White Hot (White Pop Open) – Upstate New York’s city of Rochester serves a unique hot-hot dog. A spicy all-beef frank in a natural casing is steamed, loaded in a steamed split-top bun, doused in minced meat chili, and garnished with chopped raw onion and mustard.

Corn Dogs are a staple of state and county fairs throughout America. They are hot dogs on a stick, encased in a sweet-and-savory cornmeal batter and deep-fried to golden-brown perfection

Pukka Dog – Hawaii’s contribution to the world of interesting (and tasty) hot dogs is made with a hole toasted lengthways in a got dog bun with the frank stuffed down the hole along with pineapple relish.

Ball Park Dogs – It doesn’t get any more American than hot dogs and baseball. In Los Angeles, Dodger Dogs are skinless, foot-long pork hot dogs, steamed or grilled, and cradled in a foot-long steamed bun. Boston’s Fenway Franks are steamed beef hot dogs in a soft steamed bun and wrapped so they may be tossed long distances by ballpark vendors to hungry fans. Small packets of relish, mustard, and ketchup accompany them.

Kansas City dog – If a Reuben sandwich met a New York hot dog in a dark alley, you’d end up with this flavorful variation. A pork-based hot dog is nestled in a sesame seed bun and then topped with melty Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and mustard or Thousand Island dressing.

Southern Slaw Dog, you’ll find a fresh twist on the classic chili dog. Creamy, crunchy coleslaw helps cut through the hearty dish. An all-beef dog in a soft sesame seed bun is smothered in chili and then topped with creamy coleslaw, chopped raw Vidalia onion, and optional yellow mustard. In parts of the south, coleslaw is replaced by a chopped pickled vegetable relish called chow chow.

Most every cuisine has it’s own take on the hot dog. Here are a few:

Røde Pølse (Denmark) – The popularity of this hot dog is not only everywhere in Denmark but throughout Europe as well. Tasting one can help explain this phenomenon. A long, bright red pork grilled hot dog, sticking out of both sides of its soft bun, is garnished with chopped onions, large slices of pickled cucumbers, Danish remoulade, ketchup, mayonnaise and fried onions.

Completo (Chile) – Not to outdone by anyone, Chileans’ created this beloved monster with an oversized bun holding an oversized hot dog that is then covered in too much sauerkraut, diced tomatoes, mashed avocado, ad mayo.

Chung Chun (Korea) – This dog is all the rage in Korea and the American west coast. Although it looks similar to the American corn dog on a stick, this interesting hot dog is very much Korean in taste. A hot dog on a stick is rolled in a flavored panko batter with small cubes of potato and deep fried the served sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Perro Caliente (Colombia) – Salchitas, hot (“caliente”) dogs (“perro”) are boiled, tossed in a soft bun and topped with coleslaw, pineapple sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and finished with crumbled potato chips.

MHT Hot Dog Recipes:

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