Chefs wax lyrical about panko breadcrumbs, claiming their taste and texture is far superior to the humble (and cheaper) ‘golden’ breadcrumb.
But what makes them so different – and are panko breadcrumbs really the better option?
Let’s take a look.
Firstly, what are panko breadcrumbs?
The word ‘panko’ comes from the Japanese ‘pan’, meaning “bread” and ‘ko’, meaning “made from”.
They’re hugely popular in Asian cooking and have been for centuries. It’s only fairly recently that panko breadcrumbs have entered Western cuisine (moreso in America; they’re still difficult to find in UK stores – unless you go to the big superstores).
Related: Best Breads for Healthy Digestion
How are panko breadcrumbs different from breadcrumbs?
How are they made?
Interestingly, panko breadcrumbs aren’t made from bread crusts like other breadcrumbs. Instead, they’re made with everything but the crusts and only from white bread. They are then lightly toasted, making for a crisper breadcrumb that absorbs less grease when cooked.
This is why panko breadcrumbs are often used for breading and coating foods that are set for the frier.
Can I use panko instead of breadcrumbs?
You can use panko and regular breadcrumbs interchangeably. However, if you can get panko, get panko. They just taste better.
Are panko breadcrumbs healthier?
Believe it or not, panko breadcrumbs are healthier than golden/natural breadcrumbs.
That’s right. Despite your parents’ constant proselytising about crusts being the most nutritious part of the bread, crust-less panko breadcrumbs are lower in fat, salt and calories than regular breadcrumbs.
Is the texture any different?
Panko breadcrumbs have larger flakes than ordinary breadcrumbs, and this gives breaded food a delicious, more satisfying bite. They’re also thinner and more shard-like, enhancing the crunch.
In many ways, panko breadcrumbs aren’t technically ‘crumbs’ (which hints at small, grain-like round particles). If anything, they are panko flakes. Their distinct texture makes panko a better topping for creamy pasta dishes and casseroles than breadcrumbs.
Are panko breadcrumbs more expensive?
So far, panko is the winner. But here’s the kicker – panko breadcrumbs are about three times the price of regular breadcrumbs.
The reason is three-fold: making panko takes longer, they’re less well-known in Western cuisine, and they are only made from white bread (whereas other breadcrumbs can be made with different breads).