Pork panko, simply put, is a breading made from ground pork rinds—it’s meant to emulate the crispy coating of panko bread crumbs.
The most high-profile manufacturer is Bacon’s Heir, which touts its pork panko as having no gluten, no sugar, no carbs, and 18 grams of protein per ounce. Calorically, though, it’s definitely higher than standard panko bread crumbs. Most bread-based panko products we found were about 100 calories for 1 ounce of bread crumbs; the pork panko I used was 160 calories.
So how does pork panko work in a practical application? Does it sufficiently replace panko bread crumbs? Does it taste as good and impart a, well, porky taste? Eyebrow arched in skepticism, I ordered a jar and got to work.
When faced with what to make with pork panko, my irony-poisoned brain could conjure only one thing: pork tonkatsu sandwiches. How wild would crispy, tender pork-on-pork katsu be? The results were unique, to say the least, and strangely delicious.
I butterflied a thick pork chop, pounded it flat, seasoned it lightly, dipped it in a beaten egg, and then breaded it with the pork panko. I fried the cutlets in a cast-iron skillet as normal. To make it truly Japanese, I topped the katsu with Kewpie mayo, tonkatsu sauce, and quick pickled cucumbers and served it on fluffy brioche (Japanese milk bread would be ideal, alas).