What Are Panko Breadcrumbs and How Are They Used In Cooking?
To the non-chefs among us, the difference between Panko crumbs and ordinary breadcrumbs might not be immediately obvious. However, even the most amateur of cooks has come to appreciate the texture and superior coating ability that the Japanese-style Panko brings to the table. Any baker out there needs to understand this type of breadcrumbs.
What Exactly Is Panko Crumbs?
To be clear, Panko crumbs are a type of breadcrumb. But its texture is much flakier than the typical kind used in most Western dishes. The origin of Panko is Asian, making it a staple in much of the cuisine long popular in that region of the world. Two main varieties exist; one is made from white bread with the crust already removed. And the other variety is made from the complete loaf.
Notable Differences Between Panko and Breadcrumbs
Panko crumbs are made once the bread is processed and divided up into large flakes and then dried. It is not divided into crumbs and herein lays the key distinction. Many cooks have grown to like Panko so much because of its light and airy texture that is so delicate in nature that it aids in the crisping process during cooking. This same texture is especially helpful when frying food because it ends up absorbing less oil than breadcrumbs. And provides a crisp and crunchy look to the food itself.
Because Panko crumbs have almost no flavour, the number of dishes that it can be easily added to is almost endless. It is often used as a crunchy topping for baked casseroles as an example. Because it effectively enhances the texture of the meal without compromising the taste of the actual dish.
One common dish in this genre, which Western cooks have adopted a particular liking to the use of Panko, is macaroni and cheese. It is also used to coat various types of fried foods and can be a binder for meatballs in ways that breadcrumbs simply cannot touch. Naturally, the Japanese also use Panko for a variety of dishes, primary among them seafood tempura.
Why Are the Japanese So Fond of Panko?
To understand why Panko has become so popular globally, it is helpful to go back to its Japanese roots. Tonkatsu is a great illustration of Panko’s use, as it relies on the crust free nature of this topping useful for frying a variety of different foods. Consider the following uses that the Japanese have long found for Panko in order to whet your cooking appetite.
Baked Asparagus Fries
Asians have long loved fresh vegetables, and there is nothing to be compared to asparagus spears that have been fried using panko. All that is necessary is to take the asparagus is to panel them. This is a french term used to describe the coating process. Firstly dip them in some flour, then place them in an egg mixture, and finally roll the spear in some panko. The result will be a crispy and tender piece of asparagus that is a much healthier alternative to French fries. It also presents well, so can be a side dish to a piece of fish or some sushi, among others.
Tempura Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes will never taste the same once you make this unique dish using panko as the topping. You begin by taking some sweet potatoes and then cutting them into cubes. You will roast them in the oven using a mix of mirin, sugar, and vinegar. Once you have done that, add in your Panko to create a crispy and toasted coating.
What other uses have you discovered for Panko? There are many of them, so share them with other cooks in your social network to spread the knowledge. And enjoy a new fusion of flavour the likes of which the Japanese have enjoyed for generations.