Food & Drink

Check panko crumbs for trans-fat-free label

Dahling, did you know not all bread crumbs are created equal?

Yes, I was having a good laugh as I thumbed through the pithy, know-it-all entries in “The Food Snob's Dictionary” by David Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld (Broadway, 2007), when I came across this illuminating definition for panko:

“Shardy, flaky Japanese bread crumbs, used traditionally for fried foods like tempura and, less traditionally, for non-Japanese dishes prepared by chefs smitten with the crumbs' airy, Rice Krispies-like crunch.”

Oh, but that's the part you probably already knew.

Somewhat more disconcerting was this little gem: “Left undiscussed in most `Snob' exaltations of panko is that its crisp-keeping and non-sogging qualities come from the trans-fat laden partially hydrogenated oils usually used in making the crumbs.”

Egads! Apparently you should also read the nutrition labels.

Luckily you don't need to be a food snob to enjoy Panko Chicken With Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Relish, made with trans-fat-free panko. If the bag isn't labeled “trans-fat-free,” check the ingredient list and look for panko that is made without shortening.

Perfect for company, this elegant dish is garnished with goat cheese. Rich and creamy, it is often lower in butter fat than cheeses made with cow's milk. Once an ingredient found only in fancy restaurants, in recent years goat cheese has become widely available in supermarkets.