Ever wonder why Japanese deep-fried dishes like tonkatsu (a deep-fried pork cutlet) and korokke (deep-fried potato croquettes) have that nice crispy, crunchy texture?
It’s because of the panko breading.
Panko, pronounced as PAHN-ko, is a type of dry breadcrumb that the Japanese love to use to coat meat, fish, and vegetables.
Traditionally made from wheat flour, their flaky structure ensures that the crumbs don’t compress, which creates a bread coating that is light and airy.
What sets panko apart from regular bread crumbs is how it’s made.
The bread is basically cooked by electrocution. An electric current is passed through the dough. The dough itself generates heat rather than the pan being heated by the oven.
This method was supposedly created out of necessity. During World War II, the Japanese soldiers wanted to eat bread out in the battlefields. Unable to bake without an oven, the Japanese used the batteries from their tanks to “bake” their bread.
What comes out is fluffy bread that has NO crust.
The bread is then slightly dried and shredded which gives it its unique shape.
Panko crumbs are long flat and thin and look spiky – like tiny flakes or shards. They look very different from regular bread crumbs which are round and chunky.
When fried, panko becomes crunchy and browns nicely.
Due to their shape, they stay crispy longer than regular bread crumbs. They also don’t absorb as much oil so your food is not only crispy, it’s lighter in texture and taste less heavy and less greasy.
I don’t know why recipes would still want to use regular bread crumbs. Everything should be coated with panko.
You end up with larger crumbs, making the food toastier and fluffier. You get a wonderfully tender, crispy bite with a lot of crunch.