About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Panko Crumbs
I was in a new, to me, supermarket and was perusing the aisles when I came upon their Asian section. It was a much larger store than my regular one, so it contained an expanded version of the couple of poky shelves that I was used to. There were so many things there that I had completely no idea of what they were, save if there was a picture to help, but there on one shelf was a packet of Japanese panko crumbs.

Now I'd heard of these. Rick Stein talked about them in one of his shows and in his inimitable way said to get on to them, a piece of information that was triggered from the dark recesses of my brain when I saw the packet. So I bought them, took them home and put them in the pantry and promptly forgot about them.

The other day, my wife felt like some fish, so she pulled out three King George whiting from the freezer and told me that I was cooking dinner. Not so fast!

"I'll do the fish, if you do the salad."

That was acceptable, so I got to filleting the fish. Then I started thinking that with just fish and salad, it was going to be a fairly light dinner, which sometimes is okay, but I felt like just a bit more. Maybe if I crumbed the fillets. I'm not really crazy about breadcrumbs on fish, they seem to take away from their delicacy, then I remembered the panko crumbs sitting forlornly in the pantry. Okay, let's see if Rick is right.

The first thing that was apparent was the texture of the panko. Regular breadcrumbs are like coarse sand, but panko crumbs are more like flakes, very light and airy. It seems that when they are made, rather than being pulverised like ordinary breadcrumbs, the white bread they are made from is shredded into small flakes, then baked in a low oven till dried out but not browned. This is what gives them their lightness along with exceptional crunch. They are then attached to the food in the usual egg and breadcrumb way.

There are times, not often mind, when I kick myself for not trying something I've heard about sooner, all the more galling if it's been sitting in the pantry waiting for me to wake up to myself. I need to kick myself pretty hard for this one. Panko crumbs on the fish was a revelation; they took nothing away from the fish but added some wonderful, light crunch and just enough extra weight to make it the perfect sized dinner.

I'd been pankorised!

Noting the prawns with panko crumbs on the packet's cover, half a kilo of prawns was the next to get the treatment, again with the same delicious results, so now I'm about to go completely overboard in trying to find the best foods to go with these wonderful crumbs, but for sure, seafood and panko has a natural affinity.

As Rick said, get on to them.
  posted at 7:13 am

At 6:31 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You are so fun Neil! Pankorised! Well, yes it seems you have been.
I had the same experience when I tried these, revelation for sure.
I do love crunch! and panko packs it.

At 4:31 am, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Pankorised! What a great word. Well, whatever you call it, welcome to the wonderful world of panko. It's now the only kind of bread crumb I use.

At 11:49 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, the word just popped right in there and seemed so right. I just want to coat everything with them.

Hi lydia, I was discussing crumbs with my wife (really!). The Polish have a breadcrumb treatment known as Polonaise topping, where they brown breadcrumbs in butter and put them on top of cooked vegetables usually, cauliflower being a particular favourite. She is of the opinion that panko wouldn't be quite as good, as they seem to have less flavour. Guess we'll have to try it out.

At 11:05 pm, Blogger Jeanne said...

Hmmm, I'm still a Panko virgin but I've only heard good things. Like you, I'm not generally a fan of crumbing things but your descriptions sure are persuasive ;-)

At 10:17 pm, Blogger Vida said...

Hey Neil, gotta love the panko! My mother always used semolina to coat the fish, this too gives great crunch (though quite different) and my italian friend insists on nothing but stale Pasta Dura bread for her snitzel... creatures of habit... Vida x

At 12:26 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi jeanne, you'll thank me, maybe not the hips though!

Hi vida, two more great toppings to check out! My usual thing with fish is to flour them, but sometimes, change is as good as a holiday.

At 12:22 am, Blogger Almost Vegetarian said...

I adore Panko crumbs. So much so, in fact, they I pretty much use them all the time. And what a difference they make. Last weekend, I made eggplant parmesian, and it turned out so well that I made it again last weekend, by request.

And that's something every cook wants to hear!


At 1:41 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi almost vegetarian, dead right there! We are still to try them as a polonaise topping, though there was a near miss the other day; soon though, soon.


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