The City Magazine Since 1975

Crispy Mushroom Calamari

February 2022
Vegan chef Doug McNish creates a fungi-driven app with the taste and texture of squid and a tangy tartar sauce for dipping
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6 large king oyster mushrooms 
2 cups water 
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh dill 
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce 
1 tsp. sea salt 
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed 
1 cup brown rice flour 
1 cup medium or coarse ground cornmeal
1 Tbs. garlic powder 
1/2 tsp. sea salt 
2 cups ice-cold water
4 to 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Tartar sauce, recipe follows

For the tartar sauce:
(Yields 1 quart)
3 cups vegan mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced dill pickles
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley 
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh dill 
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbs. Dijon mustard 
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt 


Using a knife, remove about 1/2 inch of the bottom of each mushroom stem and discard. Remove the caps and save to use in another recipe. Using a knife, cut the remaining stems into 1/2-inch thick rounds. You should get about four to five rounds per stem. 

Using an apple corer or the tip of a pastry bag, cut holes into the stem slices; remove the centers and discard. Transfer the mushroom rounds to a medium bowl.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the water, dill, lemon juice, mustard, tamari, salt, and garlic. Pour over the mushrooms and marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, covered, in the fridge. You can use this marinade one more time before discarding it. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, and salt. Add the water and mix until well combined. Use the batter immediately if possible; if it sits, it will thicken. If the batter is too thick, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to loosen. It should have the same texture as a thick pancake batter. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or small deep fryer to 375°F.

Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and shake off any excess, then pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Dip the mushrooms into the breading and mix until evenly coated. Dip in the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, using metal tongs to turn the mushrooms as necessary, four to five minutes total. Remove the “calamari” from the oil using metal tongs. Serve immediately with tartar sauce for dipping. 

For the tartar sauce:

In a deep mixing bowl, combine mayo, pickles, parsley, dill, lemon juice, mustard, and sea salt. Using a rubber spatula, mix until well combined. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store refrigerated for up to 10 days.

Pro Tip: “Use medium or coarse grind cornmeal. The coarse grind gives a better texture on the outside of the ‘calamari.’ Finely ground cornmeal will work, but it will not be as crunchy. ” —Doug McNish

Neon Tiger
654 King St.