If you’ve seen the mushroom fries in the archive, this one is very similar. Except for the basil, the ingredients, preparation and cooking method are mostly the same.
The difference is that while mushroom fries are very lightly seasoned because they are served with a dipping sauce, in this dish, there is no dipping sauce. Instead, a salt mixture is sprinkled over the crispy fried mushrooms and basil just before serving. Real Taiwanese street food style.
To prep the oyster mushrooms, tear large ones into smaller strips so that all pieces are roughly the same size. You add an egg, a little salt and pepper, and toss until every piece of mushroom is moistened.
If you want the mushrooms to really turn golden instead of brownish, add about a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder to the egg before whisking it with salt and pepper.
Then, you add starch and toss. Yes, starch, not flour. Potato starch makes the lightest crust, to be honest. Better than corn starch. But if don’t have potato starch, you may substitute corn starch. Just don’t use all-purpose flour or any wheat-based flour. If you do, the crust will be dense and bread-like, and you don’t want that.
Fry the oyster mushrooms in plenty of oil, and fry them in batches. You want them to cook evenly and not stick to each other.
Place the fried mushrooms in a strainer or a spread them on a rack. Don’t dump them into a bowl. You want air to circulate around them to avoid steam from forming. Steam will hasten the sogginess of the crust.
In the same oil where you fried your oyster mushrooms, drop in basil leaves and fry until they turn crisp and translucent.
Take the fried mushrooms and basil, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in your seasoning of choice, toss and serve immediately.
Crispy fried mushrooms and basil
- 20 to 30 fresh Thai basil leaves
- 400 grams fresh oyster mushrooms
- 1 large egg - whisked with ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ½ to ¾ cup potato starch - or corn starch, whisked with ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- cooking oil - for deep frying
- Rinse the basil leaves and press lightly with a kitchel towel to remove surface moisture (to prevent oil spatter during frying). Set aside.
- Tear larger mushrooms into two to three portions.
- Add the beaten egg and toss until every piece is moist.
- Add half a cup of starch and toss to distribute evenly. If still too wet, toss in the rest.
- In a wok, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Over medium-high heat, fry the mushrooms in batches for two to three minutes per batch, until golden and crisp.
- Scoop out the mushrooms and transfer to a strainer.
- Reheat the oil and dump in the basil leaves. Cook for 45 seconds to a minute over medium heat or until the leaves acquire a subtle transparent appearance.
- Scoop out and dump on a strainer.
- Transfer the fried mushrooms and basil into a mixing bowl and toss lightly to distribute the greens.
- Pile the crispy mushrooms and basil in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with your preferred seasoning.