Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs are lighter and crispier than regular breadcrumbs due to the way the bread is cooked. Instead of being baked in an oven, panko bread is placed between two metal plates and electrocuted. Not only is the resulting bread airy, it's also crustless.
Panko is the better choice for breading fried foods because it stays crispier than regular breadcrumbs and it absorbs less of the cooking oil. Not only does it work well for breading, it can also be used as a thickener or a casserole topping.
To make macaroni and cheese with a panko topping, cook 1 1/4 cup of dry elbow macaroni according to package instructions and drain. Saute 2/3 cup of minced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter, and then whisk in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. After one minute, add 2 1/4 cup of whole milk and 1 bay leaf, and simmer the mixture on low for 10 minutes.
Replace the bay leaf with 1/2 teaspoon of dry sherry and 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. After the cheese melts, combine it with the pasta and 1 1/2 cups of diced apples. Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish. Top the macaroni and cheese with 1/3 cup of shredded cheese and 1/3 cup of panko breadcrumbs, and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.