The secret to the best mushroom fries is the freshest oyster mushrooms — firm and free from blemishes. The best, of course, are those that have just been harvested. If there is an oyster farm near you, you’re guaranteed to have the freshest oyster mushrooms under the sun.
If not, well… Good oyster mushrooms can be bought in the market and grocery too. Just inspect the mushrooms carefully. They should be uniformly off-white in color and dry to the touch. The texture should be springy and there shouldn’t be any bruises.
Would it help if the mushrooms were dried before frying? Well, if you dehydrate the mushrooms, you’ll get chips. Good for snacking too but you won’t get the wonderful contrast of crispy coating and lightly chewy mushrooms underneath. It’s that textural contrast that makes the battered and fried crispy oyster mushrooms so irresistible.
So, fresh oyster mushrooms. You want to keep the pieces thin so that there will be more surface to catch the batter that will turn crisp during frying. Just tear the mushrooms vertically into thin pieces before you toss them with salt and pepper.
Break an egg directly into the mushrooms and toss to moisten every piece. You want the egg to reach deep into crevices so toss repeatedly and thoroughly. Toss, not mix. You have to do this gently so as not to break the mushrooms.
To create a light crisp, baking powder is added. To make sure that the baking powder gets evenly distributes, whisk it with half of the corn starch before adding to the mushrooms. You’ll use the other half only if the mushrooms are too wet.
Corn starch, not all-purpose flour. Wheat-based flour becomes bread-like when mixed with egg. Since you’re aiming for a light crispy crust, use corn starch. Potato starch or rice flour will work too.
Deep frying is required here. You’ll need oil that’s at least three inches deep. And remember to fry in batches so that the mushrooms can swim comfortably in the oil without bumping too much into one another. As each batch finishes cooking, scoop up and rest on a rack or a wide strainer. Why not an ordinary strainer? Because it’s too deep. If the newly cooked mushroom fries get piled up over one another, the heat will create steam and that steam will make the delicate crust soggy in no time.
What’s the best way to serve mushroom fries? With a dip. Something as simple as spicy mayo works perfectly for us. Dipping them in spicy vinegar is good too.
Mushroom fries (battered crispy oyster mushrooms)
- 500 grams fresh oyster mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 large egg
- ¾ to 1 cup corn starch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- cooking oil - for deep frying
- Tear large mushrooms vertically into two to three portions.
- Place all the mushrooms in a large mixing bowl and toss with the salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg then pour into the bowl with the mushrooms. Mix well to coat each piece of mushroom with egg.
- Whisk together half of the starch with the baking powder and dump into the bowl with the egg-coated mushrooms.
- Mix to distribute evenly. If the mixture appears too wet, you may add another quarter cup of starch. For a thicker coating, use all of the starch.
- Heat the wok. Pour in enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches at the center.
- When the oil reaches 350F, fry the oyster mushrooms in batches until golden and crisp.
- Drain the cooked mushrooms on a rack, cook the next batch, and so on, until all the mushrooms have been fried.
- Serve the crispy oyster mushrooms fries immediately with spicy mayo for dipping.