Strolling through the Kaheka Don Quijote the other day, I noticed they had these Redondo’s Arabiki Hot Dogs on the shelf next to the Arabiki sausages. Oh, something new? The Hawaii Winter Baseball theme on the packaging had me presuming these were some sort of limited time promotional offer, so I checked both the Redondo’s and the H.W.B. website to get more information about this product, to no avail.
Therefore, I ended up calling them by phone to see what’s da’ scoops. According to the person at Redondo’s who I spoke with, it turns out the Arabiki Hot Dogs are indeed a new, permanent item added to their product line that began distribution to stores some time late last year 2008.
Since as of yet there’s not much online coverage of even the original Arabiki Sausage from Redondo’s (which has been around for some time now), I figured this was a good opportunity to try them both side-by-side and do a comparo’.
I actually did a little featurette on Redondo’s Arabiki Sausage way back when in the infamous “Great Portuguese Sausage Shootout“, but this time we’ll get a bit more in-depth.
Arabiki are described as Japanese style coarse grind sausages, which are also touted on Redondo’s TV commercials for having a juicy, snappy crunch when you bite into them.
Here’s how Redondo’s Arabiki Sausages are packaged…
Let’s remove them from the vacuum packaging and see how their appearance is, starting with the Arabiki Hot Dogs…
Yes, count them: there’s EIGHT HOT DOGS included in each pack – not ten like many of the leading national brands. So finally we have the correct pairing with the standard package of EIGHT HOT DOG BUNS. A-ha!
If you remember the film FATHER of the BRIDE, Steve Martin got arrested for tearing open hot dog bun packages in the grocery store, frustrated about the fact that hot dogs are often packaged disproportionate in quantity to buns. That was probably my favorite part of the movie. LOL!
Here’s how the Redondo’s Arabiki Sausages look unpacked…
Notice there’s just 6 sausages here, which is fine, as these are intended to be eaten by themselves as a pupu, not inside of a bun, although we’ll see about that a little later! Also note they’re a bit smaller than the standard-sized Arabiki Hot Dogs. To provide you an idea of their actual size in scale, here they are next to a Blu-ray disc (I would have preferred to use a Betamax or 8-track cassette, but couldn’t find any)…
Arabiki Sausage on far left and Arabiki Hot Dog to the right of it, shown in scale next to a standard DVD-sized Blu-ray disc. No Horton, you can’t have any Arabiki sausages… you’re an herbivore, remember?
One less obvious, yet very critical difference between the Arabiki sausage and Arabiki Hot Dog is that the sausages have a natural sheep’s casing on them, while the Arabiki Hot Dogs have no casing at all; they’re removed at the factory and packaged “caseless”. We’ll see how that weighs in a little later.
I could have cooked (actually heated) them the “normal” way, which is to boil them in water for a few minutes, but decided to kick up the flavor a notch by “grilling” them on our Yakiniku-style indoor propane gas grill top. Heating it this method gave some nice sear marks on the casing, while providing an overall more browned finish, hence mo’ flavah’.
Here’s the Arabiki Hot Dogs, served-up in toasted hot dog buns, with the one on the left garnished in my own Japanese style creation, and the one on the right a more traditional American style…
Pomai’s Tonkrazy! Dog on the left, and an American style Arabiki Hot Dog on the right. The hot dog buns are standard Love’s Bakery brand
Before I explain the Tonkrazy Dog, let me explain the taste of the Arabiki Hot Dog weiner itself. It tastes very similar to the Arabiki sausage, with both of them having a distinctive Teriyaki-like (there’s shoyu and sugar in it), lightly-smoked pork flavor profile. The pork-based filling isn’t as dense and tightly packed as the sausage, and they don’t have the snap and crunch afforded by that natural casing, so you’ll have to compensate that by jazzing it up with enhanced cooking methods and garnishes like I attempted to do.
Now you probably think my Arabiki Tonkrazy! Dog on the left looks either really scary, or really oishii, depending whether or not you’re a fan of Japanese pickled vegetables called Tsukemono. Obviously I am.
The Tonkrazy! Dog is easy to make. Simply place finely-julienned cabbage inside a toasted hot dog bun as a bed. Then place a grilled Arabiki Hot Dog on that, then garnish it on one side with juleinned slices of Takuwan (pickled Daikon radish; the yellow stuff) and on the other side Beni Shoga (Umezu-picked ginger; the red stuff), then finish it off by drizzling some Tonkatsu sauce (Ikari brand) down the center.
Here’s a cross-cut view of my soon-to-be famous Arabiki Tonkrazy! Dog…
In planning this Arabiki Tonkrazy! Dog out, My train-of-thought was that since these sausages are pork-based with a sort of Japanese theme to it, I’d simply apply how traditional Japanese Tonkatsu is served and transpose that into hot dog form. Well I’m happy to report the Tonkrazy! Dog ROCKS! Well I think it does. You try make one yourself and you be the judge.
I was afraid the tangy Beni Shoga and/or pungent Takuwan (a.k.a. Takuan) would dominate all else, or simply just taste GROSS when combined, but somehow they both sort of just blended right in like one happy family.
I think the Tonkatsu sauce was the “glue” that brought it all together. That, while, just like a plate of Tonkatsu, the bite and crispness of the bed of cabbage underneath in the bun offers a refreshing contrast to the meaty hot dog above it. I tell you, try making this. I’m willing to bet at least 55% of you out there will really dig it.
Actually, the blending of these kind of ingredients in a hot dog is nothing new, as Hank’s Haute Dogs has several similar offerings, with their Lobster Hot Dog using Takuan, and their Kobe Hot Dog using Napa Cabbage and Daikon.
As for the other Arabiki Hot Dog with the dill relish and deli style mustard, NEXT. Nope, those condiments do not match at all with the Teriyaki-like Arabiki Hot Dog. Adding ketchup kinda’ helped. Next time I’ll try it without the mustard, which is what I think was the deal-breaker in this particular application. And I LOVE mustard on hot dogs, so it’s not me.
Now let’s try the Yakiniku-grilled Arabiki Sausages…
This may look simply like the Arabiki Tonkrazy! Dog, sans the bun, except the Arabiki sausages themselves are much better than the Arabiki Hot Dogs. The clincher being that the Arabiki sausages do in fact have that SNAP and CRUNCH, along with just a little burst of juice that explodes in your mouth upon each bite. As advertised and good stuff!
This all comes down to the casing, where the smaller Arabiki sausages reap the flavor and texture benefit of that natural sheep’s casing, while the course-ground pork filling also seems to have a tighter, denser “bite” to it. In contrast, the Arabiki hot dogs almost seem “mushy”. They’re still acceptably-good and certainly unique hot dogs in their own right, yet just can’t compare to the better quality filling and “snap” of the casing the smaller sausages offer.
Here’s a cross-cut view of the “cooked” Arabiki sausages…
I tried them with three different condiments to dip, including Deli-style mustard, Cocktail Sauce (ketchup and horseradish based) and Tonkatsu sauce….
Dipping condiments to the left include deli mustard, cocktail sauce and tonkatsu sauce
Like the Arabiki Hot Dogs, the deli mustard didn’t work with the sausages. The cocktail sauce wasn’t bad with it. Not bad. Yet still again, the Tonkatsu “fruit & vegetable” sauce is the magic that worked so great with these little sweetened pork sausages. It’s the perfect marriage.
Try setting a huge platter of grilled Arabiki sausages (if you can afford it), along with tonkatsu dipping sauce (served in a squeeze bottle) on the side on the pupu table at your next party and see how long that lasts.
The reason why I say “if you can afford it”, is because they’re not exactly cheap, at just around $3 regular retail price for a small 5 oz. package of six sausages. Costco and Sam’s Club carry them in a bulk 20 ounce size, with the cheaper per-pound price that goes with it, so definitely go there if you’re feeding a crowd. Otherwise most (if not all) Hawaii supermarkets carry the 5 oz. package shown here.
While the “regular” Arabiki sausage is the most popular, Redondo’s also makes this Lemon & Parsley Arabiki sausage variety…
These are not as widely distributed as the regular Arabiki, so you may not find them in your neighborhood store.
Notice they’re much lighter in color than the regular Arabiki. Here they are out of the wrapper…
They’re the same size and same price as the regular Arabiki. Here they are heated up, this time by boiling in water for a few minutes as instructed on the label…
Trying them out, they’ve got the same snap and crunch as the regular arabiki, thanks to having the same natural sheep’s casing, and also equally juicy. It’s the creamy white (fat) colored filling inside that tastes rather strange in my opinion, which also lacks the teriyaki style shoyu-sugar flavor profile of the classic Arabiki. It also tasted more artificial than natural. Especially when eaten by itself without the help of the Tonkatsu sauce. I think the high amount of back fat its made with has a lot do with these attributes. As for the addition of lemon and parsley, it’s there, albeit very subtle, and otherwise couldn’t balance it out as an entire package.
So for the non-smoke flavored Lemon and Parsley Arabiki, I’ll just say, glad I tried it, but no thanks next time. I’ll stick with the regular Arabiki sausages, thank you very much.
Putting my Dr. Frankenstein coat back on, since my girlfriend had just broke open a fresh canister of Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuit Dough for breakfast the prior morning, I decided to take some the leftover dough and make Pig-in-a-Blankets out of these babies…
Those may just go down as being the UGLIEST Pig-in-a-Blanket examples ever posted on the web. lol Yet know what? They were all pretty darned TASTY! I think with a little more experimentation as far as type of dough, as well some honing of my PITB dough-wrappin’ skillz, we just might have some potential here! The fresh-baked biscuit “bun” takes on some of the fatty juices that sizzle out of the Arabiki sausage casing and hot dogs as it bakes, making the entire thing just packed with flavor as you bite through it.
Summing it up, Redondo’s new Arabiki Hot Dogs pretty much have the same teriyaki style, mildy-smoked pork flavor as the Arabiki sausage, sans that signature snappy-crunch, while also being much cheaper per given ounce due them not having that more costly natural sheeps casing on them. There’s certainly some tasty applications for it as you seen by my Tonkrazy! Dog creation. If anything, pick up a pack and try that one out!
While I’m glad I tried the Parsley Lemon variety of Arabiki, it’s rather odd flavor profile and higher fat content makes it one I’d likely not buy again.
The winner here, and probably one of my favorite products to come out of the Redondo’s factory to date is their now-classic Arabiki Sausage. The teriyaki style, tightly-packed pork filling, along with the snappy-crunch of that natural casing and subtle smoked accent sets it apart from the rest.
What? Redondo’s Arabiki Hot Dog
Where did you buy it and how much? Ward Marukai, $3.29 reg. retail price/12 oz. package (8 hot dogs)
Big shaka to: Very tasty “Teriyaki-ish” smoked pork flavor. A very unique hot dog with potential. Excellent when grilled and placed in a bun with shredded cabbage, Takuwan, Beni Shoga and Tonkatsu Sauce (Tonkrazy Dog). 8 hot dog count in package matches 8 hot dog bun count in package. Steve Martin as Father of the Bride. Supporting local sports and local products.
No shaka to: Really missing that crunchy-snappy natural casing of the smaller sausage version. Pork not as tightly packed and tastes more “filler-like”. Leading brand of hot dogs’ standard 10/package count doesn’t match standard 8-hot dog bun/package count.
The Tasty Island rating: 2 SPAM Musubi (plain), 4 SPAM Musubi as a Tonkrazy! Dog
What? Redondo’s Arabiki Sausage
Where did you buy it and how much? Ward Marukai, $2.79 reg. retail price/5 oz. package (6 sausages)
Big shaka to: Snappy crunch. Juicy. Hint of smoke, yet not overpowering. Tightly-packed, lightly sweetened pork filling. Tastes like a high quality product (with price that reflects that). Excellent with Tonkatsu sauce.
No shaka to: Not big enough to fill a standard-size hot dog bun. Doesn’t match with Deli Mustard. Partygoers eating them too fast. High fat and sodium content and 0% essential vitamins & minerals (like most sausages)
The Tasty Island rating: 4 SPAM Musubi
What? Redondo’s Arabiki Sausage Lemon & Parsley
Where did you buy it and how much? Ward Marukai, $2.79 reg. retail price/5 oz. package (6 sausages)
Big shaka to: Snappy crunch. Juicy. Tightly-packed pork filling.
No shaka to: Strange, non-descript flavor. Scary-looking color. Lemon & Parsley rather subtle and doesn’t help it much. Much higher fat content than regular Arabiki sausage.
The Tasty Island rating: n/a