You guys still in the autumn spirit out there? I sure hope so! We’ve done pumpkins, we’ve done apples, and now here comes…. Vegan calamari!!! And do you know why they are related to the fall season? Well, because they are made from mushrooms! The absolutely fabulous King Oyster Mushrooms to be more precise!
Yes indeed, these are the same incredible mushrooms that I used to make my vegan scallops with. If you read that post, then you’ll remember that these bad boys have a texture and flavor remarkably like certain seafood-like. The umami flavors and consistency are truly unique. For the scallops, we simply cut them into slices. Now we’re going to go one step further by using a potato peeler or paring knife to cut a hole out of the middle of our slices. That way they look a whole lot like rings of calamari! Pretty cool huh?
Once you have your rings, it’s time to marinate them. As I also mentioned in the vegan scallops post, I am not a big fan of “fishy” flavors. Some vegans, for instance, do dolphin jumps over kelp caviar – me, not so much! So even if I did use a very small amount of dulce flakes in these, I relied more on a wonderful blend of herbs and spices intended to be used with seafood. The blend is made up of eight different spices, which I list in the ingredients below. So, if you don’t have specific “seafood spice mix”, you can always use a little bit of each of these common condiments!
You may have also noticed I’ve been using a little beer, here and there in my recipes. Beer batters have a delightful crunch and flavor. Here in Sweden, “light beer” means low in alcohol, not fewer calories. And these beers are inexpensive and great to use for cooking. One reason for using beer here is due to it’s carbonation. So, again, if you aren’t a fan of any alcohol, light or otherwise, try using some soda water in place of the beer! You won’t get quite the same flavor, but the bubbles will still be there!
When it’s time to fry these suckers up (I know I know, squid have suckers, not mushrooms!) you want to get them into the hot oil, golden brown, and out again, asap. OK, the oil shouldn’t be TOO hot or you will burn them. But by frying them fairly quickly, the mushrooms will retain more of their chewy consistency. So do the old “bread test”, by frying up a small piece of bread to see how hot your oil is and adjusting the heat as needed.
Last but not least – you’re gonna want something to dip you rings in! I’m a bit old-school and prefer to dip my vegan calamari in a simple, but oh so tasty marinara sauce – and I’m sharing my recipe for that too! Others may prefer aioli or an egg-free, garlic mayo, and that works, too! Whatever sinks your ring – or something like that.
- 6 -8 King Oyster Mushrooms
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – water + vegetable bullion
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – White cooking wine
- 1 tsp (5 ml) – Agave syrup
- 2 tsp (10 ml) – Seafood spice mix – onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, celery seed, black pepper, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne. (Or ca ¼ each of these 8 spices)
- a splash of lemon juice
- Optional: 1 tsp (5ml) – dulce or nori flakes Marinara dipping sauce
- 14 oz (400g) – chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) – olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp (15 l) – onion, very finely chopped
- 1 tsp (5 ml) – salt
- ¼ tsp (1.25 ml) – dried oregano
- a pinch of crushed, red pepper flakes Batter / Frying
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – flour
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) – corn starch
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) – salt
- 1 cup (2.4 dl) – vegan-friendly beer
- bread crumbs
- oil, for frying
- Cut the mushrooms into ½ inch thick slices.
- Using a potato peeler, cut a hole in the middle of each slice, by carefully pushing the tip of the peeler through the slice, and then using the curved part of the blade to cut a circular hole in the middle. (Remove and put aside the hat, pointed part of the foot and the middle you just cut out, for another recipe!)
- Mix all the marinade ingredient in a bowl or deep dish. If you don’t have all the spices in the seafood mix, use whatever you have and like. The optional dulce/nori flakes will give the mushroom a more seafood-like flavor.
- Soak the mushrooms in the marinade for about an hour, carefully turning/flipping now and then. Then pour off any remaining liquid.
- While the mushrooms are marinating, add all the marinara ingredients to a small pot.
- Heat the sauce over medium heat so that it reduces and thickens a little – ca 30-45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Mix the flour, corn starch and salt in a bowl. Add the beer and stir until smooth.
- Dip the mushrooms rings one at a time, first into the batter and then into a bowl filled with breadcrumbs, turning to coat the entire ring.
- Pour the oil into a small pot until it is about half full and heat the oil over medium-high heat. After 5 -10 minutes, drop a small cube of bread into the oil to test how hot it is. Ideally, the bread will be golden brown in about 30 seconds – 1 minute.
- When the oil is the right temperature, deep fry a couple rings at a time, keeping an eye on the them so they don’t burn or stick to the bottom. The quicker they turn a golden brown, the better, as the mushroom itself will stay firmer if they cook quickly.
- Remove the fried rings from the oil and place on paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce, and, if desired vegan aioli or egg-free, garlic mayonnaise.