It's thanks to Masterchef Australia season two - and namely, one of its finalists Alvin - that I am now familiar with the wonders of a very special version of bread crumbs. I remember well his double crusted fish and chips, made all the more crispy by using Japanese panko flakes.
So I went and bought some. And then they sat in the pantry for a while until I stumbled across them this week. I was inspired by watching Nigella recently. She explained that her creative inspiration often comes from random ingredients or objects from different countries. She then tries to do something easy with everyday "English" ingredients but reminiscent of the traditions of that culture.
I had the idea of a crispy chicken panko salad because it's nice to have a crunch contrasting with salad - sort of like croutons. I chose a soft buttery lettuce and coated it lightly with some lime juice and good quality olive oil, salt and a little white pepper.
Put enough oil in a deep frying pan to shallow fry the chicken, and heat. In the meantime, get three bowls: one with plain flour (seasoned with salt and pepper, and whatever else you feel like - dried herbs, chilli flakes - up to you!), one with two lightly whisked eggs, and one with half a pack of panko.
I use chicken tenders because they cook quickly and crisp up nicely, but you could use larger chicken pieces if you like. First toss them in the flour, then shake off the excess and dip in egg. Then transfer to the panko and coat well, gently pressing the flakes into the chicken. Once the oil starts to shimmer in the pan, fry the chicken in batches until golden brown (turn to fry each side) and drain on paper towel.
Arrange them on top of the lettuce so they retain their crunch. It's always nice to have some sort of dressing - keeping to the Japanese theme, I put small dishes of "kewpie" mayonnaise, mixed with a little wasabi paste on the side.