Crispy Salt and Pepper French Toast

By • October 4, 2010 • 69 Comments



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&MA&M

Serves 4 to 6

French Toast:

  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon 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 (69)

Tags: french toast, savory

Comments (69) Questions (2)

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Stringio

2 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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5 months ago Louise Yoxall

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

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5 months ago Louise Yoxall

Can somebody tell me what half and half is please

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6 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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7 months ago bozon

I think this would be very tasty with banana ketchup

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10 months 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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11 months 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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11 months 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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10 months ago Leah

Think soymilk would work too?

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12 months 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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12 months 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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about 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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over 1 year ago LoveAgent7

Savory French Toast, great idea!

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about 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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about 1 month 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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over 2 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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over 2 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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over 2 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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over 2 years ago SwtMahmah76

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

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over 2 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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almost 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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almost 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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almost 3 years ago Blueollie

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