A while ago now I got to fancying some panko crumbs. I used to buy them by the sack load when working in the BVI (I have a feeling they were much cheaper there) and used them mainly to make an uber crunchy version of Fish ‘n’ Chips. So I went into the lovely shop in St. Austell, Nature Kitchen, where I boldly walked in the front door!
After a pleasant browse I almost bought a small box of panko when the friendly girl behind the counter suggested that instead I had the much larger more authentic and I don’t think much more expensive bag. So that’s what I did. If you are looking for the same thing it has this written on it ...
… that should be a help a bit!
Panko crumbs are a great thing to keep in the Storecupboard – they are perfect for perking up leftovers and just generally enhancing things. I’ve been playing with them a bit.
The first thing I did was an experiment …
Panko Topped Pancakes
I have always have the last couple of pancakes after cooking everyone else’s, partly because I am a really nice lady and partly because I cook mine in an unhealthily large amount of oil so that the edges go all crispy. Today, instead I poured the batter into the lightly oiled pan and then sprinkled the uncooked top with panko crumbs. Once flipped and cooked on both sides this made a gorgeously crunchy pancake and is probably the way I shall cook pancakes for the rest of my life.
Pleased with this result I decided to try …
Panko Crusted French Toast
Not an entirely original idea as Mrs. Beeton did write something about dipping bread in milk and then coating with breadcrumbs and frying it. I tried doing this for a recent article I wrote for Vegetarian Living magazine and it was not that pleasant until I played with it a bit.
I've made a lot of French Toast in my time doing brunches and as I make it with a creamy custardy middle am often asked for my recipe. I haven’t really got a recipe, however, just a method which is …
~ Use soft white bread – it is rare that I recommend such a thing – not too fresh.
~ Cut the bread a little thick – maybe 20mm or ¾ of an inch or something like that.
~ Soak the bread in this for 10 minutes or so rather than just dipping it in.
For 2 thick slices of bread I whisked together 1 egg, ½ tsp caster sugar, 3 small drips of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp double cream and about 3-4 tbsp of milk. Having soaked the bread I coated both sides with panko crumbs and fried in light olive oil till crisp and golden.
In both the above “recipes” the crisp golden crumbs capture the syrup and butter in a most edifying manner and the crunch is divine.
So that was breakfast.
I have also had two sudden lunches recently involving panko crumbs and shallow frying. The best way to make sure crumbs (panko or otherwise) form a crisp and stable coating is to have ready a plate of seasoned flour, a bowl of beaten egg and a roomy kind of box or bowl of crumbs ready. Coat whatever you are going to fry in the flour, dip into the egg and then shake about in the crumbs till completely coated. Monitor the time and temperature carefully whilst cooking so as to ensure that the crumbs don’t get too brown till the inside of the dish, whatever it is, is cooked and hot.
Crisp Courgette Batons/Sticks/Crudité Things with Tomato & Chilli Dipping Sauce
The sauce for this was bought in tomato and chilli pasta sauce which I always have in my Storecupboard and use for all sorts on non-pasta dishes. I just coated the pieces of courgette as above and fried in a little olive oil paying attention and turning frequently.
Pan Fried Panko Crusted Brie
This really does need a little care with cooking; the brie melts quite quickly so make sure the crumbs are cooked in time! Just shallow fry in olive oil and turn oh so carefully, I use my hands but you might not be so stupid!
An old menu favourite of mine, I use to sell this with an apple and Calvados sauce but today I had a spoonful of Spicy Red Onion Marmalade made by The Cherry Tree who, according to their website, sell their excellent products at “local markets, prestigious shows and outdoor events across the country” and indeed I get mine at a weekly market in Padstow. It is exceptional stuff so get some if you can.
Panko crumbs make a great coating on deep fried foods too. I haven’t got a deep fryer and don’t fancy all that faff now but here are a couple of photos from my past …
1. Panko Crusted Fish with Homefries and Lime Tartare Sauce (aka Fish and Chips)
Here is a picture of this dish relaxing by the pool where I worked in the islands.
2. Chicken Tenders coated with Panko and Black Sesame Seeds
I have also used panko crumbs mixed with grated cheese and sprinkled on gratins and pasta bakes and mixed with shredded coconut to coat spicy fish cakes.
Leftover Panko Crumbs?
If have any unused crumbs left I sauté them up in a dry frying pan, season with a little crunchy sea salt and sprinkle them on salads etc. You didn’t think I’d waste them, did you?
I am so keen on using up leftovers I even wrote a book about it!