Panko Bread Crumbs
Panko is a type of bread crumb originating in Japan and features a much flakier, crispier texture than regular Western bread crumbs. While its use was primarily in famous Japanese dishes such as tonkatsu and certain types of tempura, recent years have seen Panko’s popularity grow dramatically in other Asian cuisine as well as in the kitchens of famous Western chefs.
Unlike regular bread crumbs, using Panko provides any pan-fried or deep fried foods a far flakier and crunchier texture. There are traditionally two types of Panko, one made from a crustless Japanese bread produced using electric currents and the other made from the entire bread loaf. I have personally not noticed any difference in using the two interchangeably.
Unless I’m cooking very traditional Italian dishes, whenever a recipe calls for bread crumbs, I always use Panko. I find that its larger flakes absorb less oil than traditional grainy bread crumbs, though I’m sure other chefs may feel differently. Panko is readily available in all Asian markets and in recent years, many Western markets have begun carrying it as well, alongside the regular bread crumbs or sometimes in the Asian/ethnic aisle.