Archives for the day Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

People food for thought Part VIII; Panko Bread crumbs

 In recent years, many celebrity chefs, food magazines started talking more about Japanese “Panko” bread crumbs, and Japanese style “Panko” bread crumbs are getting popular.

What is Japanese style “Panko” bread crumbs?

If you were not familiar with Japanese “Panko” bread crumbs, Japanese Panko bread crumbs are much coarse bread crumbs than western style bread crumbs, and it tends to be flaky appearance, and it makes much crispier coating when fried.

You can use Japanese style “Panko” bread crumbs for all kinds of protein source such as chicken,pork,shrimp etc..when deep frying them. Also, you can use them as substitute for bread soaked in milk to make a nice moist burger. Grated onion and bread/bread crumbs soaked in milk are the secret of making a nice,moist,burger.

In Japan, popular deep fried dish using “Panko” bread crumbs will be “Ton Katsu”. It is a pork cutlet dredged in the flour, and dipped in lightly beaten egg, and rolled on the “Panko” bread crumbs and deep fried.

Many people use pork chop for this, but for me, personally, it is a bit tough cut even if you pound the meat with meat mallet. So, what I normally would do to make “Ton katsu” is to use Pork tenderloin.

How to make “Ton Katsu”; breaded deep fried pork cutlet

1. Cut the Pork tenderloin to about 1/4″ thickness, pound them with meat mallet

2. Season the meat with Morton’s Nature’s season with blue cap

3. Dredge the pork tenderloin into flour, shake off the excess flour

4. Dip the flour coated pork tenderloin into lightly beaten egg

5. Roll the pork tenderloin that were dipped into lightly beaten egg onto Japanese style “Panko” bread crumbs

6. Deep fry them to golden

** When you deep frying food, it is helpful if you use candy thermometer to see the appropriate temperature for deep frying. In general at about 360F is good temperature for deep frying.

** Don’t put the food to fry when oil is not hot enough.It will make soggy,greasy food and not tasty.

Traditionally, if you order “Ton Katsu” at restaurant in Japan, “Ton Katsu” will be made with pork chop and much thicker,bigger, a little fattier, and a little chewier than my version of “Ton Katsu” and it usually comes with shredded green cabbage and hot steamy white rice and possibly a cup of Miso soup.

Sauce for the dish is usually called “Ton Katsu sauce” and it is a sauce made from Worcester sauce with hint of grated apple but depending on region, sauce can be different.

If you go to restaurant in Nagoya, Japan, which is a little western side of Japanese main island (famous for Nagoya Castle, Miso,Flat noodle called “Kishi men”), “Ton katsu” sauce is miso base.

When I make “Ton Katsu”, if not with rice, I make “katsu” burger. It is simply a deep fried pork cutlet (Ton Katsu) on the bun and I make the sauce using ketchup and Worcester sauce with ratio 2:3 (2 parts being ketchup, 3 parts being Worcester sauce) and mix well and use it as sauce. My husband loves the burger when I make them.

The Japanese style “Panko” brand crumbs I like to use are both products of Japan, imported to the states and it is Welpac brand or Sirakiku brand. You can get them at Asian stores or local grocery store international aisle.

I have tried other brands such as kikkoman USA, but it is made in the states and while ingredients to make them in minimal and similar, and coarse bread crumbs but it looks different, and I personally feel that others are easier to coat the food and make better deep fried foods.

By now, you may have noticed that I keep using the word “Japanese style” Panko bread crumbs. When I first come over to the states and, not knowing all bread crumbs were same, I have picked up the bread crumbs at regular aisle at the local grocery store.

I was surprised to see what I have found in the container. It was completely different texture, almost like sand in the container and it made quite different texture when I used them for recipes that I normally use “Japanese style” Panko bread crumbs for. It was not as crispier, not as lighter, and did not have the texture when I was familiar with when I bite into the food.

So, next time when I picked up the bread crumbs, I picked up the one that says “Japanese style” bread crumbs, but made in the states. As I stated above, similar coarse looking crumbs but it was not the same and I felt the one I was familiar with was coating the food better, and easier to coat the food with, because the crumbs in the bag was roundish bits, as opposed to flaky looks I was familiar with.

Since then, I make sure to get bread crumbs imported from Japan at Asian store or at the local grocery store because I like them better.

What are different between Japanese style “Panko bread crumbs and Western style bread crumbs?

Since the day I had culture shock with bread crumbs here in the states, I started looking what were the difference between the Japanese bread crumbs and western style bread crumbs.

Biggest,easiest difference you can find right away is the texture; western style bread crumbs are sandy texture while Japanese “Panko” bread crumbs are more coarse,flaky appearance.

Other than the looks, did you know western style bread crumbs have much more sodium,much more calories, in the products?

Western style bread crumbs have 2-3 times more sodium in the products, and have about 1.5 times more calories than Japanese style “Panko” bread crumbs.

Also, western style bread crumbs have long list of ingredients (9 ingredients, and corn syrup is the second in the list) as opposed to short ingredients list of Japanese style bread crumbs imported from Japan (5 ingredients in the list).

 Therefore, while deep fried foods are not healthy choice of eating, day in, day out, if you have them occasionally, make a better choice by choosing the Japanese “Panko” bread crumbs made in Japan over the western style “Panko” bread crumbs.

If you like to make more healthier choice for bread crumbs, make it yourself. All you need is bread.

Interesting thing about homemade bread crumbs is that, how you make the bread crumbs described on the internet via people outside Japan is different from the way many Japanese families make them.

What are the difference?

How to make “Panko” bread crumbs at home; Western way

Below is the common method suggested to follow to make homemade bread crumbs via people outside Japan.

Often times, they suggest to use the Crusty French bread, and put them into food processor and pulse to make them smaller piece. Then, they suggest to bake in the oven.

How to make “Panko” bread crumbs at home; Japanese way

There are a couple of ways to make them. Many families in Japan use any kinds of bread, and often times, we use regular white bread. It does not have to be crusty bread like French bread because mostly you want white center part,not crust.

Also, most families in Japan do not bake bread crumbs in the oven to make the bread crumbs either. Many families make fresh frozen “Panko” bread crumbs. I think that reason is because by not baking in the oven, it gets less chance it gets burn before meat is thoroughly cooked in the oil, and ensure that “Panko” bread crumbs get uniform golden color when cooked.

<Method 1>

Freeze the bread, and grate them with grater. Store the homemade “Panko” bread crumbs in freezer.

<Method 2>

Lightly toast the bread but not to make the bread brown in color, just enough to feel dry/toasted on surface. Then, grate them with grater, or cut to small pieces and put them into food processor and pulse so that you would not make the crumbs too fine.

Store the homemade “Panko” bread crumbs in freezer.

<Method 3>

Leave the bread on counter top for about 2 days to get it stale, grate them with grater or cut to dice and pulse them in food processor.

Store the homemade “Panko” bread crumbs in freezer.

Since white bread has not much crust compared to French bread or any other Artisan bread, I do not worry much about cutting the crust off, as long as crust does not dominate the ratio of overall homemade “Panko” bread crumbs.

Below is the picture of my homemade “Panko” bread crumbs.

Homemade “Panko” bread crumbs..

Making your own bread crumbs is the healthiest way to enjoy the deep fried foods occasionally. It is because if you make one yourself, you get fresh bread crumbs all the time and ingredient is simply one ingredients, and easy to make, and it does not make many leftovers. Most of all, it is the tastiest way to enjoy the bread crumbs.

On the talk of bread crumbs, just recently, I found a dark chocolate bar made with toasted Panko  bread crumbs and sea salt.

The chocolate bar is made with Venezuelan dark chocolate (60% cacao), filled with toasted bread crumbs, and sea salt. It seems it is sold at about $6 in average. I thought it a little pricey compared to regular chocolate bar, but since it was interesting so, I gave it a try.

Panko Dark chocolate bar with sea salt..

Panko Dark chocolate bar with sea salt closer look..

As you can see in the picture, it has finely ground Panko bread crumbs.

The dark chocolate itself maybe one of the tastiest I have tried in the past. Very rich,creamy, with nice amount of bitterness, and I would give 5 stars. However, when you put a piece of chocolate bar into your mouth, it gives you a little bit of grainy texture and not so much of crunchy, coarse “Panko” bread crumbs I would expect “toasted Panko bread crumbs” to have.

If you finely ground corn flakes and mix with dark chocolate, pour into the mold, you maybe able to recreate the similar texture. This chocolate bar reminds me of chocolate covered corn flakes I used to eat back in Japan.

Compared to Bacon chocolate bar, saltiness for this bar is less and maybe easy to be accepted by many people.

For me, personally, it does not tastes much different to eat regular tasty dark chocolate other than you feel the grainy texture in the mouth with hint of saltiness in the background.

Considering the cost for this bar and taste, it was not so much of “wow” factor. The dark chocolate itself was very tasty though.

You can find the Panko bread crumbs chocolate bar at local grocery store or manufacturer website here.

Apparently, this chocolate bar was at Fancy Food show in NY,which Celebrity chef  Bobby Flay was reporting about for the “Early show”. The Fancy food show seems to be hold twice a year. If the location was close to you, it might be interesting show to check out.

You can watch the news coverage by Bobby Flay for the “Early show” here .

What interests me all the time is how people comes up with creative ideas; story behind the creation.

According to co-owner Michael, this chocolate bar was inspired by Chocolate Panini he had as a child; Slice French bread in half, place chocolate bar on top, and press them with Panini press.

I have to say, recent years, if you look up the chocolate bar sections at local grocery store, you can find more and more savory type of chocolate bar such as the one with bacon bits or the one with chili etc. And more odd ball snacks.

Our stumpy dog “Palette” enjoyed the “smell” of Panko chocolate with wet nose. Too bad chocolate is toxic for her (dogs). If it were made out of carob, she could have enjoyed them a lot although it does not mean that is good for them

Do you like savory chocolate bar or sweet chocolate bar?


Dec 07, 2010 | Comments are off | People Health