Brunch is officially back bitches. I don't know where it went, why I stopped going or how I ever fell out of love with it - but its officially on my radar to have as many times as possible in one week. Whilst having a meal replacement shake at work one morning, someone asked what I was drinking. As I had already had breakfast,(thus defeating the point of it being a meal replacement shake), I replied 'it's brunch'. And it hit me that it was depressing on two levels; one being that I had technically had two breakfasts and the other being that the definition of brunch was demoted to a meagre, sawdust flavoured liquid. That is most certainly not brunch in my eyes. A glorious spread of eggs, avocados, BACON (its importance is justified by the capital letters) and pancakes should be the staple base of any brunch. And proper coffee. However, whenever I go to brunch, I tell myself I'll go for the sweet options of waffles/french toast - and my mind is changed last second to a more savoury choice. All to change with this recipe I would hope.
Decades ago, Hong Kong saw the rise of Cha Chaan Tengs - a pseudo Western-Canto mixed cafe - to provide cheap, Western food to locals who had developed a penchant for drinking British tea and eating cakes. If you ever go to HK, you've got to go into one of these cafes - pop a squat and eat like a true local - be it macaroni and soup for breakfast, noodles for lunch or club sandwiches galore. However, the best duo in my books that is always on my menu is French toast - HK style is pretty much deep fried and with a generous lashing of butter and syrup, perhaps peanut butter and condensed milk if you're feeling lavish, and washed down with a milk tea (that's black tea with condensed or evaporated milk mind...just to add to the caloriefest). I'll always opt for the sweet option vs. savoury when in Hong Kong. French toast has a special place in my heart, and my arteries.
This recipe takes it to the next level though - I thought, how can I make HK style French toast even more calorific and sinful? How can I increase the chances of pulmonary failure on a plate? Ah yes, stuff the bad boys with a rich and decadent custard. Nope, let's go one further and make a rich, salted duck egg custard. Let's throw in some strawberries as a count towads your 'five a day'. Sure. A great Hong Kong dim sum is a custard bun - comforting pillowy dough with a subtle custard inside. Let's take that custard and make it richer with a salted duck egg and have a hint of coconut to complement the strawberries in a French toast. Not complicated or necessary to do - but I was intrigued to try and make work. I'd probably advise to guzzle this down with some milk tea and Gaviscon...purely for precaution.