For perfect, light, crispy, delicious hash browns, every time, use this method. I'll also show some ways not to make hash browns, as well as an experiment showing what happens when you skip the crucial step.
Hash browns (along with biscuits, which I haven't yet mastered [edit: now I have! see here]), are the holy grail of breakfast. Done right, they are crispy, light, and delicious, worthy of every praise and love-song ever written in honor of food. Done wrong, they are mushy, soaked in oil, half-burned and mangled. They are, to borrow from the Grinch, "an appalling dump heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots".
But once you figure them out, they're surprisingly easy. Get excited.
What you need: