I've always been a huge fan of crispy fried foods—especially fish (who isn't?). It made pre-Vatican II (read meatless) Friday night suppers so much more bearable. The fish was always flounder and the breadcrumbs were always Progresso. Since then, many brands and types of bread crumbs have become available.
None is quite so perfect as panko. These Japanese breadcrumbs are made by coarsely shredding the tender inner portion of a loaf of bread, as opposed to grinding the entire loaf to a powder. The results are extra crispy, light and sweet. I rarely use anything else. So when a box of panko from Progresso was sent to me, I was skeptical and ready to be disappointed. Why would an Italian company, the gold standard for commercial bread crumbs, tempt fate like that?
With a few extra catfish fillets lying around , I decided to put Progresso's panko to the test. Straight from the box, it was a bit under-seasoned, but with a pinch of salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning, it was actually quite good. It had the same sweet, nutty flavor and light crisp texture of the Japanese brands. Plus the ingredient list is surprisingly small. (Unlike some of the other brands) and you can find it in the supermarket (also unlike some other brands)