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I love eating at cha chaan tengs, the eclectic tea cafes spread throughout Hong Kong, whenever I am in town. With menus combining Hong Kong and Western cuisines, you’re likely to find dishes as varied as baked pork chops, instant noodles and curry on the same table. It’s awesome.
On my family’s recent trip to Hong Kong, we enjoyed one cha chaan teng specialty, in particular — Hong Kong-style french toast. While deep fried, egg battered bread slathered in fruit jam can’t be on the breakfast table every morning, it sure does make a delicious treat! When we got home, my four year old insisted we figure out how to recreate one of his favorite foods from Hong Kong for ourselves.
The classic Hong Kong-style french toast combines thick-sliced white bread, eggs, and kaya coconut jam, all deep fried and topped with an indulgent amount of butter and sweetened condensed milk. The result is a sweet french toast that’s crispy on the outside, while remaining soft and chewy on the inside. Here’s the genuine article from Si Yik near Hong Kong’s Stanley Market.
If you have access to a Chinese market, then by all means use it to buy a loaf of white bread, Black and White brand sweetened condensed milk and the kaya jam. However, similar ingredients from a suburban American supermarket (for instance, substituting a different fruit jam or peanut butter for the kaya) will also do the trick.
As you move through the tutorial below, the keys are to use thick-sliced bread, to avoid over-battering the bread with the egg mixture and to wait until the oil has reached the desired temperature before starting to cook. If you follow along and combine your french toast with a hot cup of milk tea, you’ll be able to enjoy an authentic taste of Hong Kong at your own kitchen table here in the United States.
Here’s how to make Hong Kong-style french toast, step-by-step. The detailed tutorial with pictures and directions is at the bottom of the page.
Your turn! What tips can you share from your family’s recipe? Want to ask a question before you start cooking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Hong Kong-Style French Toast Recipe
Makes: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 5 Minutes
8 slices of white bread
3 tablespoons milk
Fruit jam (or peanut butter)
Sweetened condensed milk (or maple syrup)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Cut the crusts off the bread slices.
2. Spread the fruit jam on the slices of bread and assemble into sandwiches.
3. Beat the eggs and milk together.
4. Heat 3/4 inch of vegetable oil in a small pan to 300 degrees.
5. Lightly coat a sandwich on all sides in the egg mixture, then fry in the oil until both sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes total.
6. Remove the french toast from the pan and drain on a towel. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining sandwiches.
7. Dress each sandwich with butter and sweetened condensed milk, then serve hot.
Start by gathering your ingredients. You can buy the ingredients from a suburban supermarket — white bread, eggs, maple syrup and peanut butter will do. However, if you have access to a Chinese market, kaya coconut jam, Black and White brand sweetened condensed milk and thick-sliced Chinese bread will produce an authentic Hong Kong taste.
Start by cutting the crusts off the bread slices.
Next, spread the fruit jam or peanut butter on the slices of bread and assemble into sandwiches.
Set the sandwiches aside, then beat the eggs and milk together.
Heat 3/4 inch of vegetable oil in a small pan to 300 degrees. Once the oil is hot, lightly coat a sandwich on all sides in the egg mixture.
Fry the sandwich in the oil for about a minute, then flip the sandwich over, being careful not to splash any of the hot oil.
After about three minutes of total cooking time, both sides of the sandwich should be golden brown.
Remove the french toast from the pan and drain on a towel. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining sandwiches.
Dress each sandwich with butter and sweetened condensed milk, then serve hot. Bonus points awarded if you eat the french toast with a hot cup of Hong Kong milk tea!