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Revamp Recipes with Panko

It really is the best thing since (and from!) sliced bread.
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Crispy, light and pure white, panko is the epicurean emperor of breadcrumbs.  Versatile and virtually invisible (in terms of flavor), this Japanese-style creation can update any stale breaded recipe and turn up in the most unexpected places.

Japanese chefs learned the craft of breadmaking from the Portuguese. The word panko combines the Portuguese word for bread, pao, and the Japanese word for flour (also powder or crumbs), ko.  Although available in a tan color, akin to traditional breadcrumbs, the coarse, crunchy, pure white version is the one worthy of a permanent place on the pantry shelf.

 

Cooking with panko

Traditional breaded recipes updated with Panko are rendered a bit crispier, lighter, and certainly more elegant from the upgrade. Oil does not soak into panko as readily as it does into regular breadcrumbs, so the end result is a lighter, less-greasy coating. The coarse texture drains well after frying and absorbs seasoning well. Panko also makes a lighter filler for crabcakes or croquettes and are perfect for lightly fried fish and other seafood. Switching to panko is simple; just use in place of breadcrumbs in equal measure for any recipe.

Spruce up a salad

You can rescue salad with panko recipes. Use as a neutral filler in potato, macaroni, chicken or tuna salad or in deviled eggs. If you’ve ever added too much mayo, yogurt or sour cream to one of your old standards, don’t throw it out—it’s not ruined! Add in some panko and let it sit for a bit. You’ll be amazed by the sudden recovery. Cold salads will last a bit longer in the fridge without turning soupy and will stand up to hearty breads when sandwich-bound.

Recipe Ideas with Panko Bread Crumbs

Add crunch to veggies

Dress up plain veggies and tired casserole recipes with panko. Simply toast up a half-cup or so in a hot saute pan with a coating of oil and a sprinkle of your favorite seasonings for two minutes. Then top cauliflower broccoli or other veggies that could use some added texture with a sprinkle of the crispy crumbs. Add a bit of parmesan and a squeeze of lemon for an extra-zesty, low-calorie topping.

Make Chicken or Fish Extra Crispy

With panko, finish off a tried-and-true recipe for chicken or fish with 3 to 4 minutes in the oven at 400 F with a crispy, crunchy gourmet crust. Try this quick and easy recipe: Coarsely chop some of your favorite nuts and herbs in a food processor with a bit of butter or oil, just enough to coat the pieces. Toss with some panko, and then enrobe the cooked chicken or fish before popping it in the oven for a refreshing reboot of your old favorite. —Marcia Barager of the Dalai Planet

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