Mushroom "Calamari" with Harissa Mayo

Just like calamari—but vegetarian! Dirt Candy chef Amanda Cohen’s recipe transforms king oyster mushrooms into the classic snack, deep-fried till crispy and served with an aromatic harissa dipping sauce.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 45 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Harissa Mayo

1 cup mayonnaise, preferably vegan, Vegenaise brand preferred

1 teaspoon harissa powder, a North African spice mix

Mushroom Calamari

4 king oyster mushrooms (also known as trumpet royale mushrooms), sold at Asian markets or specialty grocery stores

2 cups all-purpose flour

12 ounces seltzer water

1 cup panko, fine Japanese breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon ground sumac, a Middle Eastern spice with a lemony kick

1 tablespoon za?atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 quarts canola oil

Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Harissa mayo: Combine mayonnaise and harissa in a bowl until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Mushroom “calamari”: Trim the ends and the tops of the mushrooms, then peel the tough exterior using a vegetable peeler. Cut crosswise into ¼‐inch slices. Using a small circular cookie cutter, punch a hole in the middle to make rings. (You can fry the punched-out mushroom circles, but they won’t look like calamari—or you can save them for another recipe.)
  3. In one mixing bowl, whisk the flour and seltzer to make a batter. In the other bowl, combine panko, sumac, za’atar, and salt.
  4. Fill a heavy-bottomed pot halfway with canola oil and heat to 375 degrees F. Use one hand to dip the mushroom rings into the batter and transfer them into the panko mixture. Use the other hand to toss the mushrooms in the panko mixture, then transfer to a sheet pan to await frying. Continue doing this until all of the mushrooms are battered and breaded.
  5. Fry mushroom rings in batches for 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a spider strainer or large slotted spoon to remove them to a sheet pan fitted with a rack to cool.
  6. Assembly: Pile mushroom calamari on a platter. Place harissa mayo in a small dish for dipping. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve.
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