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Shoyu Hot Dogs

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Shoyu Hot Dogs are a popular local treat, often found at potlucks and okazuyas! Hot dogs are simmered with ginger, soy sauce, and brown sugar. They're saucy, sweet and salty, and best with a bowl of rice.

Shoyu hot dogs over a bowl of rice. Simple and easy lunch.

Don't underestimate the humble hot dog...

What Are Shoyu Hot Dogs?

Shoyu Hot Dogs are a popular local dish in Hawaii. It's made by searing hot dogs and then simmering them in a mixture of ginger, water, soy sauce, and brown sugar.

It's a sweet and savory dish, and super saucy...the best of all worlds! This is a dish many Hawaii kids grew up with and still embrace as adults.

Note: Shoyu Hot Dogs is considered local food, not Hawaiian food. Read more about the difference here.

Garlic chicken bento from Mitsu-Ken (Oahu). Comes with shoyu hot dogs and tamago (egg).

Shoyu Hot Dogs In Hawaii

You won't find shoyu hot dogs at fancy restaurants...but you will find them in many other places like:

  • Local potluck parties - someone always brings a giant tray/container of shoyu hot dogs. P.S. Shoyu hot dogs are also an excellent beer snack.
  • Lunch boxes (lucky is the kid who gets shoyu hot dogs for home lunch)
  • Plate lunch and casual take out spots - this is where you'll also find hot dog musubi (like Spam musubi but with hot dogs in place of Spam).
  • Okazuyas (a kind of local deli with Japanese roots) - pictured above is shoyu hot dog as part of a garlic chicken bento from Mitsu-Ken. I have a post about the local Hawaii okazuyas coming soon, they are a very special part of our culture.

Shoyu hot dogs, plated and ready to eat.

How Do You Eat Shoyu Hot Dogs

With rice! You can eat it with plain rice, brown rice, fried rice. Why rice? Mainly because we eat almost everything with rice in Hawaii. And also because these hot dogs are saucy! The rice soaks up the sauce all nice and good. Shoyu hot dogs over rice makes for a super comforting meal. 

P.S. We also eat shoyu hot dogs with noodles. It's a great side dish with fried saimin or chow mein. 

You only need four ingredients for Shoyu Hot Dogs: hot dogs, ginger, shoyu, and brown sugar.

Shoyu Versus Soy Sauce

Shoyu and soy sauce are the same thing.

Most of the US calls it soy sauce, but in Hawaii we use the Japanese word which is shoyu

There are two main brands that we use...

My Two Shoyu Picks:

Fyi, I’ve included affiliate links below. I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you), if you purchase through the links.

You can use either the Kikkoman brand or Aloha brand. Both are great (and we keep both in our pantry). Just keep in mind that Kikkoman is a little saltier and Aloha is less salty ^_^

Once you got your shoyu, we can start cooking! Here's how...

Right after adding in the water, shoyu, and brown sugar. Let simmer away for 15 minutes. 

Shoyu Hot Dogs Method

Shoyu Hot Dogs are really, really easy to make. Just make sure you cook rice first! From start to finish, this dish takes only 30 minutes to make (and that is if you are slow :). 

First, gather your ingredients:

  • 12 ounces hot dogs (about 5-6 hot dogs)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced (I use 1 tablespoon but you can use more or less depending how ginger-y you want this)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Got everything? Good!

Ok, first cut the hot dogs into bite-size pieces. I usually cut them into five pieces each. I like cutting at an angle (looks prettier, and I like when the ends curl up and get a little crisp).

Put some oil in a small pot. Over medium-high heat, sear the hot dog pieces for a few minutes. You just want to get them slightly browned with a nice sear. 

Then add the minced ginger. Stir it around so that the ginger bits "coat" the hot dogs. Keep stir frying until the ginger smells all nice and fragrant. This should just take a minute. 

Now add the water, shoyu, and brown sugar. Mix and bring everything to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Do not cover with a lid.

Once the 15 minutes are over, turn the heat to medium-high and let the sauce bubble away and reduce. Reduce until it thicker and sticky and forms a slight glaze over the hot dogs. The dish is ready!

Pour it into a bowl and eat with rice. Ahhhhh, super satisfying ^_^

Substitutions and Additions

Shoyu Hot Dogs is a forgiving dish, and is open to many adaptions. From simmering sliced onions (use sweet Maui onions if you can) to adding sake and/or mirin, there are many ways to personalize this dish:

  • Add thinly sliced onions (at the same time you add the water, shoyu, and brown sugar). The onions get all sweet-salty, they are so delicious with the hot dogs (over a bowl of rice, of course).
  • Replace half the brown sugar with mirin. Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine often used for cooking.
  • Add 1/4 cup of sake to the mixture. Gives it yet another dimension!

All nice and glazed, ready to eat.

Shoyu Hot Dogs Recipe

See below ^_^

Shoyu Hot Dogs

Shoyu Hot Dogs

Yield: Lunch for two
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Shoyu Hot Dogs are a popular local snack, often found at potluck gatherings, okazuyas, and in lunch boxes! Hot dogs are simmered with ginger, soy sauce, and brown sugar. They're saucy, sweet and salty, and best with a bowl of rice!



  1. Cut each hot dog into 5 pieces. In a small pot with a spoonful of oil, sear the hot dogs for a few minutes. Add the ginger. Fry for another minute until the ginger is fragrant. 
  2. Add the water, soy sauce, and brown sugar to the pot. Bring to a boil. Then simmer on low for 15 minutes. 
  3. Turn the heat to medium-high for 5 minutes. Cook till the sauce reduces and lightly glazes the hot dogs. Pour into a bowl. Eat with rice!
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