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My local grocery store actually currently sells panko crumbs for more money than beef mince, which to me is incredible. Is there any sort of justification for this or is it just expensive because it is foreign?

Maybe there is some culinary justification in using it that I'm unaware of, but to me its inflated price seems rather ridiculous for something that is still in essence breadcrumbs.

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    One of my favorite bloggers, Adam Raguesea did an excellent video on this. (BTW I have no connection to Adam, except that I am a fan.) youtube.com/watch?v=n-hKc2QhJzc&t=489s
    – Fraser Orr
    Mar 12 at 15:20
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    It's only expensive because (in that setting) it's a rarity. Funnily enough, in any Japanese shop, panko would be cheap and "French style!" breadcrumbs would be ridiculously expensive.
    – Fattie
    Mar 13 at 23:14
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    I live 10,000km away from Japan and Panko is exactly the same price as any other breadcrumb. I suspect either you're looking at some kind of top-shelf, hand-made-by-an-artisan-master type of product or your local store is just fleecing.
    – J...
    Mar 14 at 12:16
  • My country also has a generally unfavourable exchange rate which also makes it expensive.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 15 at 8:58
  • @NeilMeyer I had a look - a bit pricey at Woolworth's in small fancy packs (R30/100g), but if you go to more of a speciality shop it's much more reasonable (R10/100g).
    – J...
    Mar 15 at 12:37
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The big difference between panko and "regular" breadcrumbs is that panko is more like flakes, so it creates a much different texture when used as a breading.

It's more similar to using cracker or cereal crumbs than regular bread in terms of shape, but the texture is more bread-like.

For a picture comparison, and explanation of how panko is made, see UpperCrustents's how panko is made.

The difference is lost when using it as a binder in something like meatballs ... similar to using flake salt vs. other shapes of salt. So in some cases, using it might be considered pretentious. (or just using whatever's on hand).

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    Just adding to the top voted here. If I have a fluffy white bread and shave it, it is very similar to panko. If I blitz it in a blender it's a very good compromise between the usability of breadcrumbs and the texture of panko. Mar 14 at 22:01
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Panko is breadcrumb, generally from crust-less bread, and usually a larger, airier crumb than standard bread crumb. It is traditionally Japanese, but it doesn't have to be produced there. I see it as low as 28 cents (US) an ounce on Amazon.

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    From Wikipedia, answering question 'why might it be better than other breadcrumbs in food': "It has a crisper, airier texture than most types of breading found in Western cuisine and resists absorbing oil or grease when fried,[citation needed] resulting in a lighter coating." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_crumbs#Panko
    – dbmag9
    Mar 12 at 15:13
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    OK, I see now. In defense of the local grocery store, the panko they sell seems to be from Japan, Has Japanese writing on it. Probably the source of the inflated price.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 12 at 15:13
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    One of the references on the Wikipedia page there's this video, which was quite interesting, especially the bread cooked using an electric current: youtube.com/watch?v=bCNU9TrbiRk
    – dbmag9
    Mar 12 at 15:19
  • @NeilMeyer - again, lots of stuff "from Japan" is perfectly cheap. Notably Toyotas, etc. In the US, Japanese whisky is no more expensive than Scots whisky or US liquors. It's just that it is rare (in that store) - that's all, I'd say.
    – Fattie
    Mar 13 at 23:16
  • @Fattie Nothing imported is cheap when you pay 15 rands per dollar, but yes the shop may very well be fleecing a bit as well.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 15 at 8:56
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Panko is, in the traditional sense, breadcrumbs made using crustless Japanese bread (actually an evolution of West European bread, as bread came to Japan via Portuguese explorers and merchants) in such a way that you end up with a particular texture.

The primary differences compared to more traditional breadcrumbs are that panko produces a lighter, airier texture when used for breading, and that it tends to absorb much less fat and oil than ‘regular’ breadcrumbs.

That texture is actually really important for some dishes. Tonkatsu is probably the best example of such a dish, authentic tonkatsu has a noticeably different breading than many other methods of preparing breaded pork cutlets due to the texture and other properties of panko.

The second aspect (less absorption of fats and oils) has also made usage of panko increasingly popular in western cuisines because you can get somewhat healthier results when breading and then frying things.

For meatballs and similar things where you are largely just using the crumbs as a binder, such benefits are less clear, though you will end up with a noticeably different texture in the final product depending on whether you use panko or a different type of breadcrumbs. Based on personal experience, the closest you can get is probably with dry breadcrumbs produced using a fine grater.


As an aside, you will notice I have exclusively used ‘panko’ by itself above. This is intentional, because ‘panko’ is actually Japanese for ‘bread crumbs’, and thus saying ‘panko crumbs’ or ‘panko breadcrumbs’ is not only redundant, but linguistically incorrect.

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