Trumpet mushroom slices are coated in a spiced crispy cornmeal and served with marinara sauce for dipping to make this mouthwatering vegan calamari.
A while back I went to a family dinner and watched the non-vegan family members polish off a big plate of calamari. I then proceeded to rope them all into a brainstorming session on what I could use as the main ingredient for some vegan calamari. We came up with zilch.
The idea never really left my brain though. I waited tables at three different restaurants during college and they all served calamari. And from that I learned that people really love calamari. I never really got it, but then again I've never had calamari. Or rather, I've never had non-vegan calamari.
Then a few weeks ago I got a hold of a copy of the Blossom Cookbook by Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth and wouldn't you know it, they've got a recipe for vegan calamari. It's made from the stems of trumpet mushrooms (also called king oyster mushrooms). Kind of brilliant. I've seen people do this to make vegan scallops, but it never occurred to me that if you punch a little hole in the middle of each piece you've got a perfect little tube for calamari. Coat it up in spices and crispy cornmeal, and it's really, really delicious. Maybe this is why everyone makes such a big fuss about calamari.
What I really like about the Blossom Cookbook is the fact that it's loaded with creative recipes that transform an ingredient into something totally new. In this case we're turning mushrooms into calamari. I also tried a recipe that turned cauliflower into risotto. Equally cool. The recipes in the book are all from New York's famous Blossom vegan restaurant. I guess dishes like this are what make it so famous.
These vegan calamari are deep fried, and it's so worth it. But because I know you guys so well, and I knew someone would inevitably ask, I tried baking a few of them with a light spritz of oil. It worked! I've included a note in the recipe on how to do that. Could you bake them without oil, air-fry them, or pan-fry them? Perhaps, but I can't try everything. Be sure to let me know if any of those methods work for you.
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- 4 large king trumpet mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper
- 4 cups canola oil
Slice off the tops and bottoms of the mushrooms. Cut them into ½-inch-thick slices. (Optional step: Use an apple corer or similar kitchen tool to remove the center of each mushroom slice.) Add the finished slices to a large mixing bowl, and add 10 cups water and the tamari. Marinate for 3 to 5 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
Add the cornmeal, flour, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, salt, and pepper to large mixing bowl. Drain the mushrooms, and dredge in the breading mixture, using your hands to fully coat each mushroom slice.
Add the cooking oil to a deep skillet, and heat on medium-high heat until the oil begins to bubble. Add the mushroom slices and fry for about 7 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Remove from the oil and serve with our Marinara Sauce.
Reprinted from THE BLOSSOM COOKBOOK by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth Alissa's notes: I used a few bottle caps of various sizes to punch holes in my mushroom slices, and it worked great. I also cooked up the centers, because why not? For a baked variation, spray the coated mushrooms with oil and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450°F until browned, about 20 minutes.