Sunday, May 8, 2011

Crispy Oyster Mushrooms

“But wait a bit,” the Oyster [
s cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed—
Now if you’re ready, Oyster [mushroom]s dear,
We can begin to feed."

One of our favorite places to get a non-home-cooked meal these days is a terrific vegan restaurant in Somerville called True Bistro (and since I'm doing my PhD right around the corner at Tufts, they'll be seeing a lot more of us in the upcoming; coincidence?!). Among their many offerings is an appetizer of cornmeal crusted oyster mushrooms, which is exactly the sort of thing with which I'd like to be left alone with an
an inexhaustible supply
. Failing that, I'd be perfectly happy to get several orders and make a meal of them (except that it might be embarrassing for my dining companions when I refused to share. At top volume).

Anyway, I love those things with a burning passion, so imagine the excitement when - several days after celebrating my birthday at TB, with fond memories of crispy, shroomy goodness dancing in my head - I spotted some fresh oyster mushrooms at the local health food store. S
uffice to say that a little impromptu dance was performed as into the cart they went. Upon getting home, I started looking for recipes that might approximate TB's approach, and this is what I came up with. Obviously, my home kitchen lacks some of the accoutrements of a professional establishment, but if you happen to have a deep fryer, by all means go for it and report back (as it was, I used
a deep skillet with excellent results). And in the end, it must be said that our oyster mushrooms had a pleasant run; although when asked,

Shall we be trotting home again?”
answer came there none.
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d [been] eaten every one.

The Mushrooms
~ 1 lb. oyster mushrooms, cleaned
~ Egg replacer for 5 eggs, prepared according to package directions (I used Ener-G)
~ 1 cup chickpea flour
~ 2/3 cup fine cornmeal (not the coarse, polenta-style stuff)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, chili powder, garlic powder
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes (optional)
~ Oil for frying

~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit, and place a nonstick baking sheet inside.
~ In a mixing bowl, prepare the egg replacer.
~ In a separate bowl, sift together the chickpea flour, cornmeal, and dry seasonings.
~ Dip each mushroom in the egg replacer, shake off the excess, then dip into the flour mixture. (It helps to have a "wet" hand and a "dry" hand during this part of the process.)
~ As each mushroom is coated with flour, shake off any excess and place on a platter. Repeat with remaining mushrooms until they are all coated and ready to fry!
~ In a large, deep skillet, heat about an inch of oil (I used canola) over medium-high heat, until a mushroom placed in the pan sizzles and rises to the top.
~ Working in batches, fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes on each side, removing to the baking sheet to keep warm as each batch is completed.
~ Transfer the mushrooms from the baking sheet to a platter lined with paper towels (an old brown grocery bag works just as well). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some extra red pepper flakes if you like, and serve, accompanied by...

The Sauce
~ 1 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise, but use whatever you prefer)
~ 1 tsp. each: dill, hot sauce
~ 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
~ A few grinds of salt and pepper
~ Plain, unsweetened soy milk, as needed

~ In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients. If you want a thicker, more tartar sauce-like consistency, omit the soy milk; if you prefer something more akin to a salad dressing, add about 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk until you get the texture you want.


  1. Cute poem! I love oyster mushrooms!

  2. Well, the credit for the poem goes to Lewis Carroll (with some minor editing from me), but I can legitimately claim the mushroom recipe!

  3. I LOVE your blog! And I love how you write. You are now one of my favorites to follow. I am a struggling Vegan - i.e. I am the only one who eats this way in the house - sometimes I can trick DH into trying something but he's a die hard omnivore

  4. Hi Nancy! Thanks so much for the kind words; I'm glad you like the blog, and happy to be complicit in getting your husband to eat his veggies!

  5. The oyster mushrooms and aioli are among my favorites at True Bistro, too! And now they can be my favorite in my kitchen...

  6. My fiancee and I visit True Bistro often and always get the dish. Thanks for doing the hard work of replicating it!