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Panko breadcrumbs are flaky & airy white breadcrumbs used extensively in Asian cooking to coat meat, seafood or vegetables for a crispy, delicate and less oily fried exterior.
Why are they called Panko?
As Panko is a Japanese ingredient, the name “Pan” means “bread” and “ko” is “powder”, but in this context, this refers to “crumb”.
How are panko breadcrumbs used?
You may be already familiar with some Japanese dishes that use panko breadcrumbs, most notably for Tonkatsu pork or Katsu chicken curry. The meat is encased in panko breadcrumbs, giving a lovely crunch. Once bitten, the pork or chicken is moist and tender, dripping with flavour. This is Japanese street food at its best and has inspired many other cuisines to use panko breadcrumbs, like British Scotch Eggs, Italian Mozzarella Sticks, American Crab Cakes, Spanish Croquetas, Ukrainian Chicken Kyiv, Deep-Fried Prawns etc. For any dish that requires crumbing, panko is the way to go!
Besides being used for crumbing, they are also excellent as a gratin topping for mac & cheese or any casserole dish needed a crunchy, golden top layer, perhaps mixed with grated cheese and seasonings.
What is the difference between panko and regular breadcrumbs?
The panko breadcrumbs are made & ground coarsely from crustless white bread, whereas regular breadcrumbs use all parts of the bread and are ground more finely.
Why are panko breadcrumbs so amazing?
Due to their coarse and flaky texture, the panko breadcrumbs crisp up impressively and protect the coated food from absorbing too much oil, hence a healthier coating than the regular, fine-textured breadcrumbs. Once fried, they bring an amazing crunch that standard breadcrumbs simply cannot deliver.
How are they made?
Gluten-free panko breadcrumbs are made from dry crustless gluten-free white sandwich bread. Once the crusts are removed, they are briefly crushed in a food processor, grated coarsely or chopped coarsely into small flecks of breadcrumbs. The idea it to keep it coarse as this is where the crunch factor comes from. As a finishing touch, the crumbs are toasted gently before cooling down completely prior to use or stored in an air-tight container.
Do you have trouble finding store-bought gluten-free panko breadcrumbs?
For those countries lucky to have gluten-free panko breadcrumbs available, I am jealous! For some reason, it is not readily available here in Austria, unless you are happy to order online at hefty prices. If you are keen to buy, here are a few brands available on Amazon that will ship throughout Europe:
In case you come across some older editions of cookbooks that may mention dried Japanese or shredded breadcrumbs in the recipe, these are exactly the same as Panko breadcrumbs.
Gluten-Free Panko Breadcrumbs
- 11 slices store-bought white sandwich bread e.g: Schär sandwich bread
- 11 slices homemade gluten-free sandwich bread
- Dry out the sandwich bread slices on a tray either in a very low oven for 20 mins or in a dry area for several hours. This step makes shredding the bread into breadcrumbs easier.
- Remove the crusts from the sandwich bread slices. Either save the crusts to make regular breadcrumbs or discard them.
- Cut the bread into 2 cm cubes (unless you choose to grate the bread.
- Select one of the following methods to create the panko breadcrumbs:
Using a food processor:
- Pulse the bread cubes no more than 10 times. As food processors differ in power, check halfway through before continuing till the end. It is important not to over-process the crumbs.
Using a cheese/box grater:
- Grate the bread pieces (the bigger the better) against the largest grating blade section. If there are any large chunks visible, return these pieces to be grated again.
Using a large knife:
- Chop as finely as possible in one direction, then switch directions and chop again. Eyeball the texture of the breadcrumbs, chopping more if necessary to achieve a flaky appearance.
Toasting the crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F.
- Transfer the crumbs to a lined baking tray and spread them out evenly.
- Bake the breadcrumbs on the lowest shelf for 20 mins, stirring halfway through. Watch them like a hawk during the final 5 mins as they can brown quite suddenly. Aim for a pale-yellow appearance. They should sound crispy and slide easily when moved on the tray.
- Leave to cool completely before using or storing.
- Store them in a sterilised glass jar either at room temperature (in cooler climates), chilled or freeze them in a freezer-proof container.
- Keeps for 3 weeks chilled
- Suitable to freeze for 6 months