February 1, 2024
These Taiwanese-street-food-style fried oyster mushrooms are crispy outside, tender inside, and packed with flavor! The recipe is adapted with easy-to-find ingredients so you can enjoy these mushrooms no matter how far from Taiwan you happen to be.
Fried oyster mushrooms are a must-try snack in Taiwanese night markets and tourist spots. While always crunchy and flavorful, each vendor's recipe and method is a little different. Vegan food may be hard to find in the night market bustle, but fried mushrooms are typically a reliable option (although you may have to ask around, as some recipes may not be vegan).
Although I highly recommend that you visit a Taiwanese night market if you can, I also wanted to make a recipe that people everywhere can try at home. These fried mushrooms are a delicious snack or appetizer, perfect for gatherings, parties, and game-day events.
Most Taiwanese recipes use a flour blend (酥漿粉 sū jiāng fěn) which roughly translates to "crispy powder" or "crispy flour," a pre-made blend of flour, starch, and coloring that is used to coat and add crunch to many fried foods. But this might not be available in many locations, and not every version of this powder is even vegan. So I tested out blends of flours, starches, and baking powder until I arrived at an accessible result that mimics crispy flour.
Oyster mushrooms: Technically there are many varieties of oyster mushrooms, but in the US most people use this term to refer to pearl oyster mushrooms. This kind of oyster mushroom has a tender, meaty texture and a flavor that is easily influenced by seasonings. But you can use almost any kind of mushroom with this recipe, including king oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, or enoki mushrooms.
Thai basil: It's important to make sure that the basil you're using is Thai basil, not Italian (sweet) basil. The flavors are very different. If you can't get this in your area, you can leave it out, but I highly recommend using it if you can get it. The basil enhances the flavor of the whole dish.
Salt: Because it improves the flavor of all fried foods, right?
White pepper: For flavor. You could use black pepper if you prefer, but you may want to use less because black pepper has a stronger flavor.
Water: This helps the salt, pepper, and flour blend stick to the mushrooms.
Peanut oil: For frying. I like peanut oil, but you can use any neutral-tasting, high-smoke-point oil, like canola, soybean, or vegetable oil.
Onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, five-spice powder, salt: Mix together, then sprinkle on top for flavor. You can use any blend of spices and salt that you like here.
All-purpose flour: Creates the base of the crispy coating. For a gluten-free option, you can use rice flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
Cornstarch, baking powder: Both of these ingredients work together to create an extra-crispy coating.
In Taiwan, fried mushrooms are made in many ways. Here are some alternate methods to try:
Change the spice blend: I love the spice blend I've created for this recipe, but you can mix up or completely change the spices to suit your taste.
Incorporate the spices into the flour mix: You can add a bit of the spice mix into the flour mix and use that to coat the mushrooms directly. However, you won't get as much seasoning on the mushrooms that way, so you may still want to sprinkle a bit of seasoning on top, or dip the mushrooms in your favorite sauce.
Make a batter: In Taiwan, you'll find both powder-coated and batter-coated fried mushrooms. Coating the mushrooms in powder (as this recipe recommends) is an easier method, but you can also make a batter if you prefer. This will result in even crispier mushrooms, but you'll need to keep your heat high (350-375°F / 175-190°C) when frying and watch the temperature carefully. Oyster mushrooms will release a lot of moisture when they're being fried, which can create separation between the mushroom and its crunchy coating. So they need to be fried quickly, before the mushroom can release too much moisture. To make a batter, just mix your dry ingredients with an equal amount of water (about 1/2 cup).
Try different types of mushrooms: Pearl oyster mushrooms have become very popular among vegans in the US because of their meaty texture and adaptable flavor. But this recipe can also be used with a wide variety of mushrooms. Popular fried mushroom varieties in Taiwan include king oyster mushrooms (chop into pieces before frying), shiitake, and enoki.
Prepare your oyster mushrooms: Your mushrooms may or may not have a tough stem towards the bottom (some sellers cut them off). If it's present, make sure you remove this tough stem before starting.
Clean your mushrooms: Oyster mushrooms are more delicate than many other varieties of mushrooms, so it's not recommended to wash them. You can remove debris with a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush.
Be patient: You don't need to fry all your mushrooms in a single batch. Make sure they have space to move around in the pot.
Use a thermometer to monitor your oil temperature: If your oil is too cool, your mushrooms will be soggy and oily, but if it's too hot, the coating will burn. Try to keep your oil between 330° and 365°F (165° and 185°C).
Where can I find oyster mushrooms and Thai basil? Availability will vary widely depending on where you live. The safest place to start is an Asian grocery store, particularly for Thai basil. Oyster mushrooms are a little easier to find; in the US I've seen them at health food stores, like Whole Foods and Sprouts, and at farmer's markets.
Can I make this recipe with batter instead? You can, and many Taiwanese recipes use batter to coat the mushrooms. To make a batter, mix the coating powder (flour, cornstarch, and baking powder) together with an equal amount (1/2 cup) of water. Fry batter-coated mushrooms at a high temperature: 350° to 375°F (175° to 190°C). Keep in mind that temperature is much more important when using batter, because oyster mushrooms release moisture during cooking that can cause a batter coating to fall off. Cooking at a higher temperature allows the coating to cook more quickly, so the mushrooms don't have as much time to release moisture.
Can I make gluten-free fried oyster mushrooms? Yes! You can replace the all-purpose flour with rice flour, which is commonly used in the crispy flour mix here. Or, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour if that's easier to find.
I can get crispy flour in my area, how can I make these fried oyster mushrooms with it? Just replace the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder with an equal amount of crispy flour. If you're vegan or vegetarian, check the ingredients before you buy to make sure it doesn't contain animal ingredients. Google Translate has a camera option if you need to translate a label from Chinese or another language.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 tsp. salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne (if using), cumin, and five-spice powder, then set it aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, and baking powder until well-combined, then set aside.
Add about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of oil to a medium pot, then heat the oil over medium heat to approximately 350°F (180°C).
Toss your mushrooms with 1/2 tsp. salt and white pepper. (You may want to use a container with a lid to toss the mushrooms more easily.)
Add 2-3 tsp. of water to your mushrooms and toss to coat. Then add enough flour mixture to coat your mushrooms and toss again. (You might not need all of the flour mixture.)
Use a large spoon to add your mushrooms to the hot oil, being careful to not add excess flour (you may need to fry in 2 or more batches, depending on the size of your pot). Use a frying strainer (or tongs or slotted spoon) to turn the mushrooms to ensure they’re evenly fried. When the edges are golden (after about 1-2 minutes of frying), use your frying strainer to remove from the pan. Place on a wire rack with a baking tray underneath, or a paper-towel lined plate or platter to drain the oil.
Add your basil to the hot oil and fry until crispy (about 30-45 seconds). Then use your frying strainer to remove the basil and drain alongside your mushrooms.
Sprinkle seasoning powder on your mushrooms to taste (you probably won’t want to use all of it). Then break the basil into smaller pieces and toss it together with the mushrooms. Enjoy!
If your oyster mushrooms come attached together at the base or the end of the stem is hard, you'll want to remove that hard base, but not the whole stem.
Make sure you're using Thai basil, which should be available at your local Asian grocery store. Italian basil has a different flavor, which I don't recommend for this recipe.
If you're measuring your basil in cups, it should be loosely packed.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat in the oven, but leftovers may not be as crispy as freshly-fried mushrooms.
Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.
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