Ingredient innovation: Panko crumbs

by Donna Berry
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panko bread crumbs and Tyson chicken coated in panko
The unique airy texture of panko is gaining popularity as a breading for many meat and poultry products.
 
Consumers’ cravings for food adventure don’t stop with flavor. Marketers are finding that creative breadings are another option to explore when trying to differentiate and attract shoppers. Panko, a light, airy type of breadcrumb common in Japanese cuisine, is gaining popularity on everything from chicken tenders to beef teriyaki strips.

Real panko is made from a special kind of crust-less white bread. The bread is baked by passing an electric current through the dough to generate heat from the inside out. The resulting crumbs, which come in varied course sizes, have an airier texture compared to traditional breadcrumbs.

Panko is easy to use. Simply coat the meat with oil, water or an egg wash, roll in panko, and bake or deep fry until golden brown. The result is a breaded meat that is not quite as heavy as product coated with regular breadcrumbs. The unique airy texture of panko allows for a crispier finish without absorbing too much oil or grease during frying.

Some panko suppliers offer seasoned breading systems for creative flavor development. Examples include Cajun, jerk, Parmesan and Thai.

In addition to true panko, which is not gluten-free, suppliers are trying to recreate that airy texture with gluten-free flours. For example, almond flour with courser granulation functions like panko. So, do quinoa and amaranth flakes. Even roasted chickpeas are being used. The latter contributes protein and fiber, improving the nutritional profile of the breaded food.

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