Rags To Riches: Sweet And Sour Hot Dogs..Cambridge Style?

I always love when frantically scouring cookbooks or recipes online; in dire need of fresh inspiration but with no desire to shop; and I drop the metaphorical pin on a recipe where upon initial browsing, I realise I have every ingredient in stock. This was one such occasion, albeit subject to my usual adaptations and tweaking so I can now paraphrase it as mine own.

My new bootstrap cooking approach has meant that I’m stocking my cupboards with ingredients that range from the merely dowdy, downmarket, to the downright dismal, and trying to find ways to zhuzh them up and give them a chance to dazzle for once. This is definitely based on one of the dismal kind – tinned hot dogs. As in THE cheapest you can get, made from the dreaded pink slime. I know, I know. What have I become? I’m sorry to my vegan friends.

The source recipe for this, bizarrely sold this as ‘Polynesian sweet and sour’. Now I admit I’m not familiar with the cuisine of the Pacific Islands but the original creator might have their geography mixed up or they’re just pushing it a bit far. The flavours present here are distinctly Oriental – in fact, it tasted pretty much like anything offered by local Chinese takeaways and I assure you this is no bad thing.

Anyway, I had a dented can of pineapple rings in the cupboard that needed using, two peppers in the fridge that were just starting to ruche…plus all the other ingredients, including an almost-empty packet of garlic powder that really needed to be used…time to make canned hotdogs chic, or at least edible.

Don’t skip the browning of the hot dogs part – honestly, it’s worth it. And I also recommend stir frying the peppers before adding the pineapple.

The source claimed this served 8…really? It more realistically serves two but then again the hot dogs were pretty small.

Sweet And Sour Hot Dogs


1 x 432g tin pineapple rings in juice, or chunks (not in syrup though)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3 tbsp vinegar (I used distilled malt but any will do)

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp oil

1 x 400g tin hot dogs in brine, drained and sliced on the diagonal into 3 pieces per dog

1 green pepper, cut into cubes

1 orange or red pepper, cubed

2tbsp cornflour, slaked in 2 tbsp water


  1. Drain pineapple rings, reserving juice. Chop into chunks.
  2. In a bowl, stir the juice with brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic powder (should you have any MSG or red food colouring in your cupboard..;))
  3. In a frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry the hot-dogs for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. I highly recommend this step, especially if you are using the absolute cheapest of cheap ones. Remove from pan to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Place the chopped peppers into the hot pan, add a little more oil if necessary and stir fry for a few minutes, until they lightly catch. Do this as long as you want – the more charring the better. Add the chopped pineapple chunks and the juice mixture.
  5. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking uncovered for about 5-6 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce slightly.
  6. Pour in the slaked cornflour and stir constantly until mixture is thick and bubbling – like from the takeaway, you want a thick coating rather than a runny gravy.
  7. Return the hot dogs to the pan, stir to combine with the coated veg and fruit, and cook for 4-5 minutes until heated through.
  8. Serve over boiled rice, or, if you really want to go to town, egg fried rice.

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