Crispy Salt and Pepper French Toast

By • October 4, 2010 • 71 Comments

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Author Notes: Savoury, crispy French toast. Salty, with a heavy kick of black pepper. This was one of my favorite Sunday breakfasts growing up, the smell of the toasts frying up a scent memory that still takes me back.

This fried bread I grew up eating, called khara pao (khara means “spicy”), is South Asia’s answer to French toast, typically served with a kicked-up tomato ketchup. My family was partial to black pepper, but I’ve seen turmeric, chili powder, cayenne and even cumin added. And South Asia’s not the only one that goes the savoury route. In other cultures, they do similar-style “eggy toasts” – Italy’s has mozzarella and tomato sauce, Russia’s is simple salt, egg and milk, and Hungary serves theirs with onions, tomatoes, ketchup and even mayonnaise…

This version is so ridiculously easy to make, and requires ingredients we all usually have on hand. I’m a savoury brunch person myself, and this is such a delicious alternative to the sweet version. The crispy, salty, pepper-heavy toast dipped in a cool, spicy, slightly sweet, tomato-ey ketchup is a truly heavenly combination that will quickly move into your go-to, I-have-leftover-bread-and-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it rotation. Breakfast or even as a mid-afternoon snack – enjoy! - aliyaleekong
aliyaleekong

Food52 Review: Aliyaleekong may have grown up eating this savory french toast, but for those of us who weren't so lucky, here's her easy recipe that might just make you turn your back on sweet french toast forever. It still pairs well with eggs and bacon, but (dare we say it?) this french toast would also make a mean Monte Cristo. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4 to 6

French Toast:

  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
  • vegetable oil
  • butter
  • 8 (1/2") slices day-old bread*, cut on the diagonal

Sauce:

  • Ketchup
  • Sriracha
  1. In a bowl or baking dish, beat together eggs with half-and-half, salt, pepper, green onions, and cilantro.
  2. Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with vegetable oil and add a tablespoon or two of butter for taste.
  3. Dip the bread triangles into the egg batter, drain off any excess, and place straight into the hot pan. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side – you want to develop a golden-brown color and the texture should be crispier than traditional French toast. Place cooked toasts on a paper towel-lined plate or rack to drain.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together ketchup and hot sauce to your desired heat tolerance.
  5. Serve toasts warm with a side of the spicy ketchup.
  6. *I like to use a country or pullman loaf for this. You want it to stand up to the egg batter and not get mushy, so I always go for a day-old loaf.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!
Jump to Comments (71)

Tags: french toast, savory

Comments (71) Questions (2)

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2 months ago catherine

half and half to me is semi skimmed milk

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3 days ago Mark Frisk

Half and half is half whole milk, half cream. Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk have less fat than whole milk. Either would not be right for this review, which calls for dairy with higher cat content.

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7 months ago Keka De

this is the way we've always eaten "french toast" at home! :-)
i guess a lot got lost in translation!

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10 months ago Louise Yoxall

Never mind I should have read the previous comments I'm a not wit!

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10 months ago Louise Yoxall

Can somebody tell me what half and half is please

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11 months ago Nicole

I served this alongside some homemade soup and it was perfect for dunking. I had dill and chives on hand instead of scallions and cilntro and it was delicious, though I found it to be heavy and could only eat 1/2 slice. We ended up reheating the rest for breakfast the next day. Yum!

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11 months ago bozon

I think this would be very tasty with banana ketchup

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about 1 year ago Ria Booth

Thank you drbabs and Leah for your helpful comments. I'll try the half whole milk and half cream, and perhaps the soya milk later too. Thanks so much. Kia ora.

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over 1 year ago Ria Booth

Sounds delicious and I shall try it but whatever is half-and-half - is it a commercial product, or perhaps half butter and half margarine, or half butter and half oil.
Ria, New Zealand

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over 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Ria, in the US, half-and-half is half milk and half heavy cream. You can use all whole milk or light cream in its place.

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about 1 year ago Leah

Think soymilk would work too?

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over 1 year ago foodinspires.com

Oh my goodness... savory French Toast, I can just see the Chef's in France turning over - until they try it. Excellent and thanks!

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over 1 year ago Doreen Csutoros

Growing up, we used to all this "egg toast." My dad and I were never fans of syrup. You just brought back so many wonderful memories, thank you!! Will try adding the cilantro.

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over 1 year ago starvingfoodie

I've never had the slightest interest in syrupy sweet and eggy French toast. As a kid, my bro and dad shared that joy alone. Ironically, now my fave desserts are those of the eggy, custardy persuasion. Go figure. But THIS, this is the answer - savory AND kicked up, times TWO even. And scallions? Stop, you had me at sriracha ketchup. Brunch list status achieved. Well done.

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almost 2 years ago LoveAgent7

Savory French Toast, great idea!

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over 2 years ago John Hablinski

My dear old sainted mother made a savory French Toast sans green onions and cilantro. She served it buttered. I was horrified the first time I ordered French Toast in a restaurant and it was sweet. Yuck. I suppose it is another version of the mayonnaise/salad dressing debate where the right choice is whatever your mother served. It’s mayo for me and don’t you dare get close to my watermelon with that salt shaker. If you put salt on it prepare to wear it as a hat. I’m going to give the onions & cilantro a try but I think I’ll stick with that good ol’ artery clogging real butter. Mmmmmm!
Oh yeah, as it happened the Cooks Country TV program had an episode on which they made French Toast (the sweet junk) today. They did make a couple of suggestions which I think just might improve the product. They suggested using Challah and they also suggested you dry the bread in a warm oven for a few minutes. They said day old or air dried bread still contain water crystals which rehydrate when frying which makes the bread mushy. John

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6 months ago JohnL

Challah makes awesome French toast. I got a Williams-Sonoma recipe for Challah made in the bread machine that makes it easy. Store bought Challah is kind of pricey. And not nearly as good. I remember the first time I had French toast. I was a small child living in Tokyo in the 50's and one of the neighbors gave me a little piece. I ran home and raved about it to my mother, and she learned to make it for me. I'm in the sweet camp, but this sounds interesting, too.

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over 2 years ago daisybrain

Since I don't see any comments questioning the amount of black pepper I guess I'll just go for it.

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almost 3 years ago Lincoln87

My grandmother always made French Toast similar to this..minus the cilantro..I like mine with Cheez Whiz on the side...

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almost 3 years ago urban cook

I finally got around making this. I enjoy the flavors, but it didn't come out crispy, it was more the usual consistency of french toast. Maybe I didn't use enough oil?

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almost 3 years ago nzle

This was so, so delicious -- I ended up scrambling the last of the egg wash dip and serving it alongside the toast. Delicious!

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almost 3 years ago SwtMahmah76

I absolutely can't wait to try this later this week!

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almost 3 years ago Miachef

I tried the recipe this morning...although I love the flavors, the toast came out a bit chewy....any ideas what I did wrong? The spicy ketchup saved it...but want to try it again. Any suggestions for correcting the "chewiness" would be appreciated...thanks!

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about 3 years ago kaysee

i'm also the type of person who eats pancakes and french toast with ketchup. i can't wait to try this. thanks for the recipe.

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over 3 years ago Blueollie

As with everyone else above, I will state the obvious... Amazingly delicious recipe. Flagged for a while and finally got around to making this morning for brunch. Barely tweaked the original - used one less egg and a sturdy whole wheat with grains loaf (from acme bread) - and found this to be incredibly easy, comforting and delectable. The picky but always hungry and up for new things hubby equally enjoyed. Savory is preferred in the am in my household, so thank you for a new addition to my repertoire.

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over 3 years ago Blueollie

Oops. Sorry about the double post. Got a little too excited!

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over 3 years ago Blueollie

As with everyone else above, I will state the obvious... Amazingly delicious recipe. Flagged for a while and finally got around to making this morning for brunch. Barely tweaked the original - used one less egg and a sturdy whole wheat with grains loaf (from acme bread) - and found this to be incredibly easy, comforting and delectable. The picky but always hungry and up for new things hubby equally enjoyed. Savory is preferred in the am in my household, so thank you for a new addition to my repertoire.

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over 3 years ago teesu

Yummm, this looks delicious! I absolutely love cilantro! Definitely giving this a try :)

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over 3 years ago bunnymama

It took my sister and me many years to become accustomed to sweet french toast because our Polish mother had always made it with eggs, salt, pepper and milk. She used this toast to make our "grilled" cheese sandwiches, too. Until now, I thought it was just my mother's unique recipe, so I'm delighted to find this recipe. We just use butter as a topping for ours, but I will definitely give the spicy ketchup a try.

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over 3 years ago nithyadas (hungrydesi)

Looks delicious. My husband makes a version of this that we call Indian French Toast with cumin, coriander, chili powder and garam masala. Great photo too btw.

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almost 4 years ago avimom

Delish! I subbed thyme for the cilantro and shallots for the scallions. Loved it!

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almost 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

What a great breakfast this was on a cold, snowy morning!

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almost 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Glad you enjoyed! I'm now craving it...

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about 4 years ago AnaFD

It looks delicious!!! I will include it in my sunday's breakfast. Thanks for sharing it.

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about 4 years ago SassyCondiments

Can't wait to try this savory toast!

I would love to have your ketchup recipe if you are willing to share. I have been looking for a long time.

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about 4 years ago thirschfeld

I have used the one from Joy of Canning for years. I think it is wonderful and it has the ability to take other flavors post canning. Meaning I make curry ketchup and now Sriracha ketchup.

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about 4 years ago thirschfeld

there are not words to express how good the toast is... I had home made ketchup then I added shriracha and I have a new favorite ketch up, too. It was a win win morning. Thanks for sharing this.

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Homemade ketchup + sriracha is even better! I'm so happy you made this and enjoyed it :). Thanks!

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about 4 years ago betteirene

I had to work late, and because my daughter-in-law is a timid cook, I was expecting to come home to corn dogs and fries. I was pleasantly surprised to find that dinner was this french toast--she apparently took me seriously when I showed it to her yesterday and said we should try it soon. She served it with roasted asparagus, eggs "poached" in salsa made with the last of the homegrown tomatillos (she thought salsa would go well with the cilantro in the batter), and thick-sliced pepper bacon. Thank you for showing my daughter-in-law such an easy and great-tasting way to be adventurous in the kitchen, aliyaleekong. It was really good. And thank you, A&M, for bringing this recipe to my attention.

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Betteirene! That's sounds like an absolutely fantastic dinner, and I'm so happy that this recipe inspired your daughter-in-law. That seriously just made my day!

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almost 4 years ago lisabu

Wow, sounds like your daughter-in-law is not so timid after all! Great menu planning.

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about 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I have houseguests coming who love food. This looks like a great interesting alternative breakfast treat. Thanks so much for posting this. (Also thinking it would be fantastic mid-afternoon with a fino sherry....)

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Oooh, with sherry...love the thought :)

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about 4 years ago betteirene

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off the keyboard.

Man, I could kick myself for being the wrong kind of Asian (Filipina). (It's a joke, Ma.)

We're big fans of breakfast for dinner, and I just bought some nice thick pepper bacon, so I think we'll be having bacon-egg-Monterey jackwiches for dinner tomorrow.

Thanks for sharing the recipe, and the beautiful photo.

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Thank you, everybody, for all the warm sentiments! This was so unexpected, and I am both honored and excited by the win and to be part of such a rich food community!

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about 4 years ago mklug

I've never liked French toast because I too prefer savory stuff...but I tried this and it was perfect! Who knew? And you're right--all of the stuff was on-hand, but the kind of things I would look at and think, "there's no way to combine this to make a meal".

I had mine with tomato chutney...too delish.

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

So glad you tried it! Thanks!

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about 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Congrats aliyaleekong!! I love your recipes and am really happy to see one of yours picked for the first wildcard! Can't wait to try this one!

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about 4 years ago mariaraynal

What a cool twist on french toast. Congratulations on the Wildcard!

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about 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Congratulations, what a fun recipe!

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about 4 years ago cheese1227

Finally something besides dessert for brunch!!

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about 4 years ago ashleychasesdinner

Congratulations!! This looks amazing. Looks like there are many of us who do not prefer the sweet version of french toast. I can't wait to try this recipe!!

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about 4 years ago lapadia

Congratulations on your WildCard win! I always choose savory over sweet, thanks for sharing your recipe.

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about 4 years ago Waverly

Congratulations, Aliya! Yum.

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about 4 years ago TiggyBee

Fantastic!! Big Congrats!!

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about 4 years ago Summer of Eggplant

Thank you and congrats!

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about 4 years ago TheThinChef

Holy cow, this looks amazing. I am not a fan of sweet French toast, because I always feel like it should be savory. This is the answer. Can't wait to try it!

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about 4 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congrats, wild thing! This looks awesome!

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Thanks, everyone! I'm just seeing this myself! Wonderful because it's so easy to do :)

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about 4 years ago thirschfeld

Yeah and congrats aliyaleekong. I am a big fan already so I am so really happy to see this. The Sumptuous Beef and Rice Casserole is on my to do list for the weekend.

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Thanks, thirschfield. I know you are a gourmand, so feel free to sub in boneless short ribs or beef cheeks to even more sumptuous results...:)

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about 4 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations!! I am so happy this was chosen as the first Wildcard.

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about 4 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats! Just noticed this recipe. Love it.

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about 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I missed this! First Wildcard of the new year--congratulations!

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about 4 years ago gingerroot

Yum! My palate prefers savory over sweet so this is my kind of breakfast. Thank you so much for the recipe - I will be making this soon!

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Thanks, gingerroot! Hope you enjoy.

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about 4 years ago gingerroot

Finally made this for lunch today, so so good. Thanks for a fantastic recipe.

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about 4 years ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

my this sounds delicious. will probably get onto the breakfast for dinner list, when we're tired out and need something quick and comforting.

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Thanks, luvcookbooks! Love the breakfast for dinner concept :)

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about 4 years ago aliyaleekong

Thanks, aargersi! Let me know when you try it - was such a childhood fave...

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about 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This sounds wonderful! And spicy ketchup to boot - I am a ketchup fiend, this is on the rotation for sure!!!