Crispy, tender and juicy, these vegan calamari made from mushrooms taste just like the real thing!
Calamari can be prepared in different ways and is eaten by people all over the globe. Sliced into rings, battered and fried, they make for a great snack or appetizer. Calamari rings are made from squid, but vegan calamari made from king oyster mushrooms ticks all the boxes and can be prepared and enjoyed without harming any animals in the process.
Plant Based Calamari vs. Squid
Only 1 percent of the world’s squid fisheries are currently classed as being sustainably managed, and fishing is one of the main reasons that we are seeing a reduction in ocean wildlife populations. Overfishing is also connected to by-catch which is a threat to marine life.
With this in mind, why not make plant-based calamari instead? Plant-based seafood is not only for vegetarians and vegans but also for those wanting to make more conscious food choices.
You can make tender and delicious vegan calamari from the heart of palm or king oyster mushrooms. While delicious, the heart of palm harvesting can involve cutting down an entire tree, and unfortunately, illegal poaching affects forest diversity and alters natural regeneration. So be sure to buy fair trade to ensure sustainable farming practices are being supported.
Mushrooms, however, require little water to grow compared to other foods, need little space and grow quickly. They are considered one of the most sustainably produced foods in the US. Sustainable, and fast-growing? Delicious and easy to prepare? The king oyster mushroom wins.
There are ready-made versions of mushroom calamari available to buy in stores, but an even more sustainable option is to use fresh king oyster mushrooms and to prepare your own from scratch.
Vegan Calamari Recipe
These vegan calamari taste just like the real thing, even your non-vegan friends will be fooled. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and full of flavor.
When preparing the mushrooms, don’t waste anything that isn’t a perfect ring. You can also batter and fry the smaller discs and the caps, or you can keep them to the side and enjoy them in another meal later on.
This recipe has a few steps but is very simple and easy to follow. It does involve frying in hot oil, so be careful. Never leave hot oil unattended.
Serves 2 (simply multiply the ingredients for more servings)
For the mushroom and marinade
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp. powdered organic vegan stock
- 1/2 sheet of dried nori seaweed
- 2 organic king oyster mushrooms
- 2-3 pieces kombu/dried kelp
- 1/2 an organic lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp. flax oil
- 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tsp caper brine
For the batter
- 1/2 tbsp. organic apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 a cup organic oat milk
- 1 tbsp. cornflour
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. dried herbs
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups neutral oil, for frying
- Prepare the marinade. Heat the water on the stove and add the vegan stock and seaweed. Bring to a simmer and turn off.
- Prepare the mushrooms by slicing the stems into discs. Medium thickness is perfect.
- You want to make these discs into ‘squid rings’ by punching out a circle of mushrooms from the middle. You can use a bottle cap or a piping nozzle for this.
- Strain the seaweed (you can add them to a miso soup or ramen) and add the rest of the marinade ingredients to the stock and stir.
- Place the mushroom rings in a shallow dish and pour the marinade on top. Make sure all the rings are in the liquid. Leave for at least one hour or up to 4 hours.
- Prepare the wet batter by adding apple cider vinegar to the oat milk. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the cornflour.
- Stir the garlic powder, salt, paprika and dried herbs into the flour.
- Add the oil to a deep-sided, medium-sized skillet (or whichever pan you are comfortable deep frying in), and heat to about 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, test it for a good sizzle by dropping in a little bit of bread.
- Using chopsticks or a fork, shake the marinade off a vegan calamari ring, dip in the wet batter, dredge in the all-purpose flour and add to the oil. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan. Repeat.
- Fry for around 2 minutes per batch, flipping the calamari over for even cooking. Remove to a rack or clean towel to drain any excess oil, and keep going until all the mushroom is used up!
Serve immediately with plenty of fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over. They go really well with a dip made of unsweetened vegan yogurt, fresh dill and capers
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