Panko is a variety of flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine as a crunchy coating for fried foods. It is made from bread baked by grinding the dough to create fine slivers of crumb, yielding bread without crusts. It has a crisper, airier texture than most types of breading found in Western cuisine and resists absorbing oil or grease when fried, resulting in a lighter coating.
The Japanese first learned to make bread from the Europeans, and panko is derived from pan (from Portuguese pão) and -ko, a Japanese suffix indicating "flour", "crumb", or "powder". Outside Japan, its use is becoming more popular in both Asian and non-Asian dishes: It is often used on fish and seafood and is often available in Asian markets, speciality stores, and, increasingly, in many large supermarkets.