Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb. It is airier, flakier, and crispier than the Western breadcrumbs. It adds a delicate crunch to whatever you coat it on and seems to make everything taste good. Pan means bread in Japanese and ko* means child. I guess we could think of it as offsprings from a bread loaf? A popular plate in Japan is tonkatsu which is a deep fried pork cutlet that is coated with panko crumbs. It's usually served along side with shredded white cabbage. I stopped eating meat a long while ago so I usually use fish, tofu, beans, or nuts as meat replacements. I loved tonkatsu as a kid. Because the tonkatsu is fried, I naturally craved the raw cabbage salad on the side to combat all that grease in my stomach. So if you want to opt for a healthier alternative using the baking method, try this baked salmon panko crusted nugget recipe.
Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce is the dressing and dip for the cabbage salad and the tonkatsu. The sauce has a flavor that consists of apple purée, tomato paste, carrots, prune paste, onions, and apricot purée. It's basically an interpretation on the Worcestershire sauce suited for Japanese cuisine. It is sweeter and thicker. To reconcile my Asian taste buds and fond memories of my times in a tonkatsuya (tonkatsu house)—a place specialized in serving tonkatsu and perhaps other deep fried dishes, I serve this baked panko crusted salmon dish with a side of shredded white cabbage using the Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce for myself. Otherwise it's a versatile dish. It can be a starter, snack, hors d'ouevre or main dish and you can serve it with a tartar sauce dip.
Baked Salmon Panko Crusted Nuggets
INGREDIENTS//yields 18 pieces
• 1 cup (50 grams) panko
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 salmon fillets, deboned (180-200 grams, approx. 6-7 ounces)
Heat up a medium size pan over medium heat.
Pour the panko crumbs into the pan and stir often until it turns golden brown. Once golden brown, take it off the heat and let it cool. Mix in your black and white pepper, and salt.
Pre-heat your oven to 200° C (between 390°-400° F)
Take your salmon fillets and cut them into little square pieces about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick (about 1 1/2 cm).
Place the salmon into the panko crumbs and press down with your palms with enough pressure so that the crumbs stick. No egg and flour involved here! The piece of fish will flatten out a bit.
Place each piece onto a baking tray. Then place in the oven for 10 minutes.
Homemade Tartar Sauce
INGREDIENTS//yields 1/2 cup
• 1 tablespoon cornichon, finely chopped (about 10 pieces)
• 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon capers, finely chopped (about 10)
• 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 lemon wedge
• Salt and pepper (adjust to taste)
Finely chop your first three ingredients: cornichon, caper, shallot.
In a bowl, add the finely chopped ingredients with the mustard.
Then fold in the mayonnaise.
Squeeze some lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I bought two salmon fillets that were 180 grams and 200 grams each. I got 18 nugget pieces out of it. Depending on how thin or thick you cut your pieces of salmon, oven time may be shorter or longer. Just be careful not to overcook your fish—nothing is worse than dried out fish.
*My Japanese friend Yoshi pointed out to me that "ko" in panko is this Japanese character (粉 ) which means powder. The "ko" I was referencing is this character (子) which means child. It all sounds the same but has different meanings. You think this is considered a homonym in Japanese?!