This Hong Kong french toast is made with a triple-decker stack of soft and fluffy milk bread with peanut butter filling. It's pan-fried until golden brown and served with condensed milk! A classic and nostalgic dish in cha chaan tengs (Hong Kong cafés)!
Hong Kong french toast is such a nostalgic dish for me and many others. It's an indulgent treat from my childhood that I don't have the chance to eat very often anymore.
Peanut butter and condensed milk are commonly paired together in Hong Kong cuisine. The sweet and nutty flavour works so well together and it's one of my favourites. This french toast is fried until crispy and golden brown perfection so it's delicious every time.
What's different about Hong Kong-style french toast
Hong Kong-style french toast is a popular dish that has become a staple in Hong Kong's food culture. It's a perfect combination of Western-style French toast and the local flavors of Hong Kong. It's served at Hong Kong cafés (called cha chaan teng in Cantonese) and often enjoyed any time of day.
This version of french toast is made with thick slices of soft milk bread - either 2 or 3 slices - with a peanut butter filling. It's dipped in the usual egg mixture and pan-fried until crispy and golden brown. It's served with a generous drizzle of sweetened condensed milk or maple syrup.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This recipe is so easy to make and takes less than 15 minutes!
- It's absolutely delicious and perfect for breakfast, brunch, or any time of day. I've definitely ordered this for dinner before at Hong Kong cafes.
- This recipe makes a single serving so it's easy to scale up if you're making it for your family or brunch for two. Just multiply the ingredients by however many french toasts you want to make.
- Milk bread - This is the soft and fluffy white bread found in Asian grocery stores and bakeries. It's also called shokupan. Slightly stale bread works best in french toast so use leftover slices that are a couple of days old or leave fresh slices out on the counter overnight to dry out.
- Peanut butter - Use natural peanut butter that only contains peanuts. The only thing better than french toast is french toast stuffed with peanut butter. Use just enough for thin layers as you don't want the sandwich to be gummy and stick to the roof of your mouth.
- Egg - This will coat the sandwich and become a crispy crust when it's fried.
- Milk - You can use any dairy or non-dairy milk. You just need a little bit to thin out the egg mixture and soften the bread.
- Vanilla extract - For a little extra flavour and so the french toast doesn't taste too eggy.
- Oil - Use any oil for frying. You can adjust the amount you use. I like to use just enough to coat the bottom of the pan but you can use more for a shallow fry.
- Condensed milk - This is a must for Hong Kong-style french toast! Warm it up and drizzle it over the toast when serving or have it on the side. You can also use maple syrup or both!
- Butter - For serving on top of your french toast. This is completely optional.
How to make Hong Kong french toast
Spread peanut butter on bread - Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on 2 out of 3 slices of milk bread.
Cut off the crusts - Stack the bread slices on top of each other into a triple-decker sandwich. Use a serrated knife to cut off the crust on all sides.
Mix batter - In a shallow dish, whisk together egg, milk, and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed.
Prepare pan - Add enough cooking oil to coat the bottom of a small pan on medium heat.
Coat sandwich in batter - Dip the sandwich into the egg mixture on all sides. Don't let it sit in the liquid for too long otherwise it will become soggy and mushy.
Fry sandwich - When the oil is hot, place the sandwich in the pan. Fry on every side of the sandwich (6 sides total) for about 20-25 seconds until golden brown.
Serve immediately - Serve your Hong Kong-style french toast with lots of condensed milk and butter and/or whipped cream.
Hong Kong french toast is best when served immediately while warm. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheated before serving.
Tips & tricks
- Use stale bread. Stale bread soaks up more of the egg-milk mixture without becoming too mushy and becomes crispier when fried.
- Don't let the sandwich sit in the egg mixture for too long. It will become too soggy and mushy. Have the pan and oil hot and ready to go before dipping the sandwich. Transfer it to the pan right away.
- Use enough oil for a crispy fry. This french toast is by no means healthy. It's still a fried dish so you want to use enough oil to make it crispy and golden brown.
- Cook on all sides. Since this french toast is so thick, you'll need to cook the 4 sides as well. Use tongs to hold the sandwich vertically in the pan to fry the sides.
- Serve with condensed milk and other topping variations. Add syrup for more sweetness or add other toppings as you like. Try adding butter, whipped cream, fresh fruits, powdered sugar, or even a scoop of ice cream.
Frequently asked questions
Hong Kong french toast originates from the period when Hong Kong was a colony of the British Empire. In Cantonese, the name of the dish literally translates to "Western toast" or 西多士.
There could be several reasons why your french toast is gooey, soggy, or underdone in the middle. The bread may have been soaking for too long in the egg mixture or the bread was too thin and soft. You may have fried it at too high a heat, causing the outside to cook faster than the inside.
Your bread may have been too fresh and soft. Stale and dry bread is better at keeping its shape and integrity when soaked and fries up crispier.
More Hong Kong-style recipes to try
Hong Kong French Toast
- 3 slices milk bread, slightly stale
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 1 large egg
- 40 g milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- oil for frying
- condensed milk, for serving
- Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on 2 out of 3 slices of milk bread.
- Stack the bread slices on top of each other into a triple-decker sandwich. Use a serrated knife to cut off the crust on all sides.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together egg, milk, and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed.
- Add enough cooking oil to coat the bottom of a small pan on medium heat.
- Dip the sandwich into the egg mixture on all sides. Don't let it sit in the liquid for too long otherwise it will become soggy and mushy.
- When the oil is hot, place the sandwich in the pan. Fry on every side of the sandwich (6 sides total) for about 20-25 seconds until golden brown.
- Serve your Hong Kong-style french toast with lots of condensed milk and butter and/or whipped cream.
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