Nashville Hot 'Shrooms
A recipe by Firesenay M.
Firesenay is our resident microbiologist, food writer, and photographer. She loves mushrooms! She'll be sharing her weekly fungal escapades here. Try her deliciously photogenic recipes yourself!
Although I spent a short year and a half in Nashville, I left the city indoctrinated by the powers of the Nashville Hot Chicken. I’m sure an image of this infamous fiery hot piece of chicken has graced your social media feed at one point or another. We’re taking the heart and soul of that recipe and applying it to large clusters of oyster mushrooms. The mushroom will get battered and fried to perfection and then brushed with the delicious Nashville hot oil. It will then be topped with slaw, pickles, and an herby garlic aioli-creating a perfectly balanced sandwich. The zingy slaw is essential and non-negotiable as it will cut through the rich flavors of your now deep fried and spicy oyster mushroom clusters.
Two subtle details in this recipe will render your mushroom unbelievably crispy. First, your dredge, the mixture of dry ingredients that will coat your mushroom before frying, will be a combination of flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Rather than just using flour, the additional ½ cup of cornstarch will create an audibly crispier exterior while remaining light and absorbing less oil. The baking powder creates air bubbles in the coating when it makes contact with the oil, further contributing to a light and crunchy mushroom. Second, we will let the mushroom rest after dredging. Instead of immediately frying, giving it some time to rest will allow the dredge to get hydrated by the batter and create that craggy crust that we are all after.
I can confidently say I enjoy the mushroom version of this recipe more than the original. Encapsulated in the crunchy crust, the stem of the oyster mushroom becomes tender while maintaining its moisture. The meaty and tropical notes of homegrown pink oyster mushrooms is especially fitting for this recipe. When you bite into it you'll think you’re biting into a juicy piece of chicken. You’ll get the same sensation that you get from the Nashville hot chicken sandwich but feel exponentially better in the aftermath.
8 oz Homegrown Oyster Mushrooms
1½ cup flour
1 cup milk (can be plant based)
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt + pepper
½ cup cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
Neutral oil for frying
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp brown sugar
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp oil
½ cup mayo
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp finely chopped herbs (such as dill, chives, cilantro...etc)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt + pepper
Hamburger bun (preferably a light brioche or potato roll)
Chili oil to taste, optional
- Separate your oyster mushroom into clusters large enough to fit on an average hamburger bun. It’s okay to have some small clusters, you can always stack several pieces on your sandwich. Trim the very bottom of the stem that made contact with the substrate. The rest of the stem will tenderize in the frying process so don’t worry about removing it.
- Combine ¾ cup flour, milk, hot sauce, ACV, and salt+pepper to create your batter. In another bowl, mix ¾ cup flour, cornstarch, and baking powder to create your dredge.
- Heat your frying oil to 375 degrees fahrenheit. The oil should be 3 to 4 inches deep.
- Dip your clusters of mushrooms in the wet mixture. Make sure that all the cracks and crevices of the cluster come in contact with the batter in order to achieve an ultra crispy mushroom. Dip into the dry mixture. Leave the battered and dredged clusters to rest on a rack for 5 minutes.
- Fry each piece until golden brown. Let them rest and drain on a rack in order to allow airflow so that the bottom of each piece remains crunchy.
- While the mushrooms are frying, slice your cabbage thinly and dress in oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine mayo, garlic, herbs, lemon juice, and salt+pepper in a bowl and whisk to create your aioli.
- Combine your hot oil spices in a bowl and mix in 1 cup of your frying oil while it is still hot. The oil can sometimes bubble when it makes contact with the spices so take caution when adding oil. While this recipe calls for two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, feel free to adjust the spice level to your liking.
- Brush each cluster with the hot oil. If you don’t have a pastry brush it’s okay to lightly spoon over the hot oil on each piece.
- Toast the inside of your bun on a hot pan or griddle. Put aioli on both sides, followed by a fried cluster of mushroom, slaw, and pickles. Take your first bite, listen to that crunch, and thank me later.