Panko is a type of breadcrumb originating from Japan. When used to coat fried food, the result is a lighter, crisper finish. More of the fat drains away from the food too, so you get the texture and flavour benefits of breaded fried goodies, without the potential oily-sogginess you can sometimes get with other kinds of breadcrumb. But why is that?
Panko is no ordinary breadcrumb. Structurally it is different. Where normal breadcrumbs are fine and round in consistency, Panko is flakier, with bigger particles which are long or oval in shape. The difference is a bit like that between popping a carrot in a blender, or grating it. In breadcrumb terms, this clearly has big implications for the food you coat in it.
And how is this wonderstuff made? Surely not by the hand of man – some sort of magic must be employed. Well, almost…
Panko bread, whilst mixed and kneaded and proved like other breads, isn’t baked in an oven. In fact it is baked by passing an electric current through the dough. This unusual technique apparently originates from the battlefields of WW2, where Japanese soldiers at war with the Russians, rather than risk giving away their position with the smoke from a fire, discovered they could bake their bread using the electrical energy from their tank batteries. This method produces a light loaf full of small, evenly spread air bubbles, and no crusts – perfect for breadcrumbs.
Panko breadcrumbs work especially well on fish and seafood, as it leaves the final product crisp on the outside and fresh and juicy on the inside. We’ve used panko with panache, coating our new range of Breaded Fish, which includes cod and whiting – the ideal treat for all fish fiends and wannabe otters (like me)!