I’m going to just let it right out of the gate: This “calamari” recipe from the book, Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis (p.155) is THE most spot on imitation of anything I have ever had…ever. It is. Total genius.
I’ve had my share of fried calamari, and Sarma’s raw vegan version is awe-striking. Even if you were never a fan of it, doesn’t mean you won’t be just as impressed with this dish. As she mentions in her book, “This dish looks so much like fried calamari that restaurant guests are often baffled by it” – well that pretty much describes it, modestly speaking.
It goes much further than looks. Biting into the mushrooms is uncannily like that of tender, perfectly cooked calamari. The flax meal coating is like the ideal, well seasoned homemade breading that I can’t wait to try on some other things.
If you’re going to make this, be sure to have on hand some sort of small round cutter to punch the holes from the centers of the mushroom stems. At first I wasn’t prepared and had to rummage around my kitchen junk drawers until I found some random round plastic part from who knows what. They crisp up very well in the dehydrator, but enjoy them warm and timely or they will eventually get droopy.
Because I’d just shopped the local Asian markets the day before, I decided to take this Thai-ish. So I didn’t do the accompanying “cocktail sauce” and “tartar sauce”, and instead made a garlic-chili aioli for dipping. I also substituted the called-for basil, thyme, and oregano, with grated lemongrass, Thai basil, and Chinese chives.
I got some beautiful Thai eggplant at the market too, so I quartered them and marinated them with a ton of grated fresh lemongrass, some ginger, garlic, Thai basil. Purely experimental. They take a good while to dehydrate (at least to my liking) but pretty tasty.
Recipe for fried vegan calamari (Oyster Mushroom))
225g oyster mushrooms
[Dry ingredients] 1½ cups rice flour
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon of seasoning Old Bay
½ Tsp of pepper
½ Tsp of paprika
[Wet ingredients] 2 cups of water
1 . with soup of seasoned rice vinegar
[Other ingredients] oil for frying
1 cup panko (I used panko rice)
½ Cup of vegan mayo
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ Tsp lemon peel
½ Teaspoon of oregano
¼ Tsp garlic powder
¼ Tsp pepper
Cut the mushrooms. Remove soft pieces with foam or look less fresh. Then cut the mushrooms into individual pieces. You are looking to have long strands/strips of mushrooms.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Mix, then add the water and the rice vinegar. whisk until smooth.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add oil, about ½ inch.
Add the panko to a bowl. Set up a plate lined with paper towels, or do as I do, use a baking sheet lines of paper towels, surmounted by a grate for the pieces of fried calamari.
To test if the oil is hot enough for frying, dip a piece of mushroom in the mixture, shake the excess, then place in the bowl with the panko and cover. Put in the frying pan.
If the mushroom sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Start soaking the mushroom pieces in the batter, then coat the panko, then fry.
Fry on both sides for 2-3 minutes until golden. Watch the heat closely. Transfer the cooked squid pieces to the plate or plate covered with paper towels.
Prepare the pepper and lemon sauce or any other dip you would like to serve with the fried calamari.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Heat the leftovers in the oven (not in the microwave) so they can be crisp again.
PS: serving this recipe with lemon is a MUST, but it is even more a must to serve with lemon sauce! It’s dangerous that little sauce there, I would bathe in it, it’s not confusing!