If You're Going To Make Fish Burgers, Add Some Panko

Salmon patties can make for a delicious sandwich, but as with any fish burger, they can be a bit finicky to cook right. Generally, the protein structure of fish is more delicate than that of beef or pork. It's deceptively easy to turn your fish-based patties into a puree. To avoid this, a great binding agent for your fish is bread crumbs, specifically the Panko variety. Panko are Japanese bread crumbs made from bread whites or a gluten-free alternative. 

First of all, Panko crumbs are crispier and flakier than normal bread crumbs and lend a crunchy texture to fish patties. Secondly, Panko crumbs do not absorb oil as easily as regular bread crumbs do. Since fish patties are usually pan-fried, this is particularly beneficial, as it prevents them from being greasy. It also has the side benefit of preventing them from sticking to the pan.

According to Healthline, Panko bread crumbs and normal bread crumbs have a similar amount of calories (100 vs 98) and fiber (4% vs 5% of daily value), making Panko an easy replacement, and it can give your fish burger a texture that normal bread crumbs can't.

Proper Panko portions are crucial for texture

When using Panko crumbs in your recipes, it's important to get the right proportions. As with any bread crumbs, the amount you put in could drastically affect the end result of your patty, particularly the texture. For instance, chef Adam Ragusea tries to use as little as he can when fixing salmon patties. He said, "You do need some bread crumbs to help hold fish patties together. I just think the trick is to use as little as possible, work it in, let the bread crumbs saturate into a starchy paste, [and] see if the mixture is now sticky enough to mold into a burger. If it's not, mix in a little more bread crumbs."

On the other hand, some chefs like a bit more crispiness in their recipes, such as cookbook author Flo Lum who states "I like to use it because I guess the pieces are bigger than a regular bread crumb, and it's just the whites of the bread, and not like the crust". The big, coarse Panko flakes certainly lend themselves to the crispy exterior that Lum prefers, especially when it hides a creamy and juicy fish underneath. So, the next time you're fixing fish burgers, keep Panko in mind.