Torn oyster mushrooms are mixed with a lightly seasoned batter made with starch and egg, and deep fried. A cross between tempura and crisp potato wedges, these mushroom fries are light and crisp, and just outrageously good.
The inspiration comes from two sources from different locations. The first is Mushroomburger in Tagaytay City where mushroom fries are sold. Since we discovered it in the menu, we’ve never gone to Mushroomburger without ordering it. Sometimes, we even order extra to munch on in the car.
The second inspiration comes from China by way of a blogger named Elaine, the fantastic cook behind China Sichuan Food. When Alex came across her fried oyster mushroom recipe, that was when realized that what we had been enjoying at Mushroomburger for so long is actually a dish with a Chinese origin. Imagine that!
The recipe is pretty simple. But you can’t make mushroom fries properly without the freshest oyster mushrooms. Those that are already soggy after sitting in the market or grocery for days won’t do at all. Neither will rehydrated dried oyster mushrooms.
What you need are firm oyster mushrooms that are 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.
When you have your super fresh oyster mushrooms, you can make mushroom fries easily. Just remember that just like French fries, the cooking technique employed here is deep frying. No, that doesn’t mean you need to have a deep fryer like the ones you see in fast food joints. Any good frying pan and a working stovetop will do. But you’ll need enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least two inches. Three is even better.
Here, let me show you.
When you buy fresh oyster mushrooms, chances are they won’t come in uniform sizes. You will need to tear the large ones to make sure that they will turn crisp in the hot oil before the batter turns too dark. To do this, hold a large mushroom near the end of the stem and pierce (I just do this with the nail of my thumb) to split the stem into two. Pull sideways to separate. If the halves are still large, repeat the process to split each half into two portions.
Place your prepped oyster mushrooms in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper and toss well. Or you can get creative at this point. Want spicy mushroom fries? Add cayenne. Want a herby flavor and aroma? Add dried herbs. You get the idea.
Pour in a beaten egg. Toss thoroughly to coat each piece of mushrooms with egg.
Next comes the starch. Dump about half a cup of starch on the mushrooms and toss to distribute evenly. The mushrooms will still look a little wet at this point but they can be cooked already. The coating will be thin which means cooking time will be shorter. Cooked at this point, the mushrooms turn soggy fast as they cool.
I prefer to add more starch until the mushrooms separate from another another. It’s easier to pick them up one by one and drop into the hot oil and the generous coating stays crisp longer.
Heat plenty of cooking oil in your wok. Fry the mushrooms in batches until golden and crisp.
Ready to make mushrooms fries? Here’s the recipe.
Mushroom Fries (Battered and Fried Crispy Oyster Mushrooms)
- 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.
- Dump 1/2 cup of starch into the mushrooms. Mix to distribute evenly. If the mixture appears too be 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 immediately with mayo and ketchup in separate bowls.
They’re best right off the wok. As soon as they are cool enough not to scorch your mouth, start eating them. If you let them sit on the plate for too long, they will start to get soggy.