Most of the time I like my dogs crispy and deep brown on the outside. But then there are the times I want my childhood comfort food, a dirty water dog. I remember the first one I had when i was a youngin' growing up in park Slope, Brooklyn. I was around five years old and my mom stopped by one of those small hand pushcarts, the real tiny one you don't seem much anymore where the yellow and blue Sabrett's umbrella is bigger than the cart, at the corner of Union Street and Seventh Ave.
They were a dime each, and seemed a bargain to me. My mom tried to order one for me with ketchup but they didn't have any and besides, I was already of the opinion that ketchup is for fries and burgers and would never let it dog my franks. I wanted the "other stuff," the bright yellow/brown "deli" mustard and the reddish, shiny stuff. So I had my first Sabrett's hot dog with mustard and Sabrett's onion sauce. It wasn't much to look at, kind of ugly and messy to tell you the truth, but it was mighty tasty and went down just fine, thank you. (By the way, I know that's a nasty photo. I wasn't able to take my own shot.)
The dirty water dog, or just a hot dog, as it is known in the NY/NJ area, are hot dogs that go for a swim, then a soak, in boiling water to heat them up. It's kind of like a day at the spa for them, prepping them for their big moment. The mildly spicy Sabrett's franks are the dog of choice, although some places have Nathans or Hebrew National, but those are griddled or cooked on those hot roller thingies and are a relatively new hot dog cart expression. The dirty water dog is a long and thin natural skin cased frank and has a nice snap to it, the bun is at air temperature and mildly soft to slightly firm, and of course it's a sideloader bun (side split), as compared to the top split or toploader New England style roll.
As I got older I tried all the possible combinations of mustard, relish, onion sauce (just called onions), fresh chopped onions (only rarely seen back then), all meat chili paste, etc. but my favorite was always the mustard and onions combo. Eventually I sought out the places that made their own spicy onions. Then came up with my own recipe to make at home. It's been a year or so since my last dirty water dog with mustard and onions, but I'm heading to NYC soon and will just have to satisfy my urge for some frankly good comfort food.
Here's a gallery of NYC hot dog carts and such to peruse.