I had a blast whipping up this incredible crispy vegan fried calamari! Believe it or not, I achieved the PERFECT calamari-like texture by using a blend of oyster and shiitake mushrooms. With a generous sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, a pinch of salt, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, these little morsels are a crunchy and tantalizing treat for everyone to enjoy!
When it was time to give those calamari a try, everyone was like, “Whoa, they look amazing! But do they taste as good as they look?” Well, let me tell you, as soon as they took a bite of those mushrooms, their faces lit up! One person even said they tasted so much like the real deal, it was kind of spooky!
So, first things first, I had to nail that texture. I didn’t want these to just look like calamari, I wanted them to feel like calamari, which can range from tender to chewy. And that’s when I thought, mushrooms! They have that same range of texture, from tender to chewy. Perfect match, right?
I went with shiitake mushrooms for the rings because they add a nice chewy texture to the dish. To make the rings, if you have a tiny cookie cutter, great! But if not, just use the bottom of a metal decorating tip, or even the tip of a knife. Easy peasy!
To mimic the more tender and delicate “tentacles”, I chose oyster mushrooms. Make sure you use smaller mushrooms because the bigger ones tend to have tough stems that aren’t so pleasant to munch on. Even the frilly ends of the oyster mushroom caps, which you can shred a bit more, perfectly imitate the appearance of squid tentacles, elevating the overall presentation of the dish.
Let’s be honest, no one orders fried calamari because they actually enjoy the taste of squid. We’re in it for that addictive crunch, the burst of saltiness, and that zesty kick of lemon.
To give our mushrooms that legit taste, I prepped and cooked them just like calamari. First, they took a dip in some vegan buttermilk, made with plant-based milk and a squeeze of lemon juice. The buttermilk not only imparts flavor but also helps in creating a delectable coating that clings to every morsel.
The coating for these mushrooms is super simple. Cornstarch for that extra crispiness, salt to enhance the flavor, and the secret ingredient… Old Bay Seasoning, that delectable blend of spices like celery salt, paprika, mustard, and red & black pepper. You know, it’s all about the spices! Old Bay is extremely reminiscent of seafood dishes, and it works wonders here too!
Traditionally fried calamari is served with just a sprinkling of sea salt and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It’s also common to serve with marinara sauce or aioli. If you want to try something a bit more unusual, and out of the ordinary, serve with our very own Pio Pio Sauce, (one of our personal favorites)!
Get ready to dig into these scrumptious, crispy little morsels! Enjoy!
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Crispy Vegan Fried Calamari
- 1 cup small oyster mushrooms
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup plain plant-based milk I used plain soy milk
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ cups cornstarch you can also use all-purpose flour, but the mushrooms won't be as crispy
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- oil for frying
- lemon wedges for serving with the calamari
- Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. With the tip of a knife, or tiny cookie cutter, (I used the bottom of a metal piping tip) cut a hole in the middle of each mushroom.Save these for another recipe.
- Pull the oyster mushrooms apart to resemble tentacles. You can also shred the ends of the mushroom caps a bit more for added texture.
- Pour the plant-based milk into a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice to make vegan buttermilk.
- Place the prepared mushrooms into the buttermilk and gently toss to coat.
- Add the cornstarch to a shallow dish and season with the Old Bay and salt.
- Remove each piece of mushroom from the buttermilk and coat in the cornstarch mixture.
- Heat approximately an inch of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Carefully place in the hot oil, and fry about 2 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
- Place on paper towels to drain.
- Serve hot with a sprinkling of sea salt, and lemon wedges.You can also serve the calamari with marinara sauce, aioli, or own very own Pio Pio Sauce.