Bread and Breadcrumbs — Pan y Pan Rallado

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Bread is to Spanish cooking what rice is to Asian cuisine and potatoes to the Irish. Bread fills people up, mops up sauces and it is an integral part of most people’s diets.

The traditional Spanish bread is crusty on the outside and has a moist, dense interior. Sourdough bread is enjoyed but never used in cooking. Two-day-old bread and breadcrumbs, however, are used a lot. When using breadcrumbs to thicken a sauce or make a soup, you can use stale pasta dura — those big, round and dry Italian loaves. They can be bought in most good delicatessens, Italian bakeries and some good supermarkets. Bread labelled ‘pasta dura’ from high street franchise bakers just doesn’t cut the mustard. If you can’t find pasta dura, substitute with another firm crusty bread.

At MoVida we also use Japanese panko breadcrumbs to coat food that will be deep-fried. They are light, dry and airy and available from Japanese food stores and good food suppliers. Alternatively, you can cut the crusts off a 2-day-old pasta dura, partially dry it in a moderate oven and then put it through a food processor. Either way, avoid using bread that comes in a plastic bag — in my opinion this is not real bread.