One downside to being a beautiful genius is that people are quick to dismiss your ideas simply because they’re too intimidated by your brain and body. Why else would I be mocked for mixing up an MSG martini, only to see it featured in a slick PUNCH spread years later? What other explanation could there be for my thoughts on caviar tasting being ignored, only to have the NYT (cringe-ily) brand the practice as “bumps”? (Don’t say “audience size” or “SEO.” The answer is obviously “jealousy” and “sexism.”)
I suspect similar things are in play with this avocado hash brown toast, which I covered over three years ago in my ground-breaking story, “Hash Browns Are the New Toast.” The combination of Trader Joe’s hash brown patty, avocado, and egg is trending on TikTok, but I’m actually not bitter. I’m glad the glory of hash brown toast is being shared with the masses. That is, after all, the entire point of food media.
The basic format for this dish is an air-fried oblong hash brown patty (cook for 12 minutes at 400℉), topped with an avocado and an egg. Sometimes the avocado is sliced, sometimes it’s mashed. The egg is usually fried. Most of the variation between recipes occurs with the finishing touches, but everything bagel seasoning, chilli crisp, and parmesan cheese are all common.
Those are all good — great, even — but I have even more topping suggestions, as well as a few strategies for optimising each aspect of the dish (because that’s the job I’m paid to do).
The hash brown
An oblong hash brown patty is already pretty perfect. In fact, the only tweak I would suggest is making a giant hash brown waffle in your waffle maker through the clever use of tater tots. The larger your hash brown, the more avocado you can consume on that hash brown.
Again, avocados are pretty good just as they are, but this is one instance where I think a bit of lily gilding is fine. A squeeze of lime or lemon, a splash of umeboshi vinegar (which is tangy and salty), a little bit of soy sauce, fish sauce, or Worcestershire sauce — all of these can be mashed into your avocado to give it a slight edge. (I haven’t tried it yet, but I think a layer of onion dip or labneh in between the hash brown and avocado would be clutch.)
If you really want to wow your mouth (or someone else’s), lay down a thin layer of ‘nduja — a spicy, fermented pork spread made with Calabrian chiles. ‘Nduja is spicy, fatty, and salty, but it’s also fruity and funky, which does wonderful things to the avocado. (Can’t find true ‘nduja? You can make your own approximation with charcuterie and chiles.)
Fried eggs are something of a passion of mine, and there are a ton of ways you can upgrade your sunny-side-up experience. My number one tip is to use more fat that you think is decent, whether you’re using butter, olive oil, or bacon grease. You want to add at least three tablespoons for two eggs — enough so the hot, sizzling fat comes up over the whites, which allows them to finish cooking before the yolk gets too firm, while ensuring the edges are as lacy as can be.
You can also fry your egg in a puddle of cream, on a bed of cheese, or sprinkle herbs and seasonings directly into the whites. To up the umami, get tomatoes involved and fry them in tomato paste or the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes.
Chilli crisp is actually pretty hard to improve upon, but you can make your own, if you are into that kind of thing. Any kind of herb oil will also give your toast an edge, as will pesto, flake salt, a cloud of parm or pecorino, a smattering of fresh herbs, french fried onions (like the kind you get on a green bean casserole), or any other crunchy, savoury topping. But start with chilli crisp. Chilli crisp and eggs are meant to be together.