Let’s face it, if you are following a strict gluten-free diet, it is nearly impossible to enjoy gluten-free crumbed food in a restaurant or as a take-away, unless obviously it is a gluten-free establishment or has an exclusive gluten-free menu. After travelling through big cities like London, Melbourne, Singapore, Milan, Berlin, Madrid and D.C. over the last six years, I have noticed very few offer a gluten-free crumbed option, especially if you try to order Street Food, which is undoubtedly the best when it comes to crumbed snacks or meals, but disappointingly always gluten-orientated.
This is when I have taken these “culinary travel memories” into my cooking world and converted them into worthy gluten-free recipes, most just needing a gluten-free breadcrumb conversion, but as I realise the more I experiment with gluten-free cooking, there are so many more creative and tasty gluten-free crumbling options other than using the standard gluten-free breadcrumb mix. If you like cooking with the appetising texture of crumbing, please read up on the many great ways to coat your favourite meats, seafood, vegetables, cheese and mixtures.
The trick is to find a crumb texture that adheres well to the food, yet still give that crisp, not to mention, flavour. Luckily, there are several gluten-free crumbling ideas that will meet this criteria. I have listed 8 different ones with some recipe suggestions that suit that crumbing type. As this is a work in progress, I plan to update more recipes to this list.
Universal Method of Crumbing:
The following three basic steps are crucial for a successful coating on meats, seafood and vegetables:
1, Gluten-free plain flour or cornflour seasoned with salt, pepper and occasionally herbs or spices
2. Eggs, either whole or softly whisked egg whites (substitute with milk if you want it egg-free)
3. The selected gluten-free coating
For good results, it is recommended to chill the crumbed food for 20 minutes before frying or oven-baking.
Try to keep a good supply of one or a few types of crumbling mixtures in the freezer. They are very handy during cooking and don’t need any defrosting. To build up your breadcrumb supply, make the most of those stale leftover slices of bread either by toasting them lightly and crushing them into crumbs or freezing the bread whole to crush later. Crushed cornflakes, nuts and tortilla chips freeze well too. Sesame seeds, quinoa and dukkha keep for at least one month chilled in a sealed container.
Using store-bought breadcrumbs is convenient, but expensive and sometimes hard to find. Some good bakeries that sell a limited selection of gluten-free bread, may sell gluten-free breadcrumbs. It is worth inquiring even if you don’t see a bag on display. These breadcrumbs would be on the healthier side rather than the supermarket packaged one.
Gluten-Free Breadcrumb Coating
- Crushed from either gluten-free white bread or gluten-free kaiser bread rolls
- For a healthier and more fibrous coating, use gluten-free brown bread
- Mix in crushed store-bought gluten-free crackers or crispbreads to add more flavour and texture
- Used to coat meat, seafood, vegetables, fritters and croquettes
- A perfect substitute for gluten breadcrumbing
- 1:1 ratio when converting gluten recipes to gluten-free
- Taste and texture are no different to gluten breadcrumbing
- Equally as crispy
- Perfect for deep frying, pan-frying and oven-baking
- Used in my recipes for Arancinis, Bitterballens and Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Gluten-Free Tortilla Coating
- Ground from gluten-free corn tortilla chips or homemade corn tortillas
- Used in various meat coatings
- Works well in Tex-Mex dishes
- Slightly spicy & earthy corn flavour
- Used in Cajun Crumbed Chicken
- Try using gluten-free potato crips
Gluten-Free Sesame Coating
- Used in meat, seafood and vegetable coatings, especially in Asian cooking
- A pleasant, slightly nutty flavour
- High nutritional value and good fibre content
- Sesame seeds work well in Dukkah as a coating. Dukkah is coarsely ground from toasted almonds, sesame seeds and toasted spices
- Skip here for the dukkah coating recipe
- Dukkah is fantastic as a chicken or fish coating
Gluten-Free Cornflake Coating
- Use store-bought gluten-free cornflakes
- Crush with the seasoning that suits the flavour of your dish
- Used to coat meat, seafood and fritters
- Children love this coating on chicken nuggets and fish fingers
- Suitable to freeze and ready to coat straight from the freezer
- Used in my Christmas Sweet Potato Puffs and upcoming Singapore Cereal Prawns recipe
- Ground coarsely from either white, red or multi-coloured quinoa grains
- Use lightly pre-toasted quinoa for that extra flavour
- Used in meat, vegetable and fritter coatings
- Quite earthy & coarse, but can be crushed further if you prefer a finer texture
- The healthiest of all the gluten-free crumbling suggestions
- A superfood
- Red and black quinoa have nearly twice the Vitamin E and antioxidant capacity compared to white
Cornmeal & Polenta Coating
- Regular yellow or white cornmeal is made from dried corn kernels.
- Used as a crispy coating for fish fillets, notably Southern Fried Cat Fish or in Fish Fry.
- Popular to coat oven-fried chicken
- Polenta has a coarser texture, but it gives a bigger crunch and irresistible fried corn flavour
- Grated Parmesan cheese mixed with Italian seasoning makes a heavenly coating for chicken fillets & certain vegetables like zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms
- Only suitable to oven-bake on baking paper
- Upcoming recipe: Italian Parmesan Chicken
- Using crushed nuts from almonds to pecans
- Add the seasoning that suits the flavours of the dish
- Nutritious and full of flavour & texture
- Almond meal mixed with arrowroot powder or cornflour is also an effective coating for fried foods like onion rings and chicken wings
HOMEMADE DUKKAH SPICE BLEND
- 100g whole almonds, skins removed
- 70g sesame seeds
- 1 ½ tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1. Roast the almonds in a dry pan on medium heat until the almonds turn golden. Keep stirring them and don’t leave them unattended as nuts burn very easily.
2. Remove the almonds to cool down on a plate.
3. Measure all the sesame seeds and spices in a small bowl and add them to the dry pan.
4. Dry roast the mixture, stirring continuously until they appear nicely roasted. At this stage, your kitchen will smell magical with the aroma of these roasted spices.
5. Remove to the same plate as the almonds to cool down completely.
6. Once cooled, add the almonds, sesame seeds and spice mixture to a food processor.
7. Pulse or gently process the mixture until it appears crumbly. Don’t over mix it otherwise it may turn into almond butter!