These are Taiwanese-Style Popcorn Mushrooms inspired by those popcorn chicken from bubble tea shops!
This version is of course vegan and made with fresh oyster mushrooms.
If there’s one thing I miss about Taiwan, it’s their amazing street food (and food, in general). I was reminiscing of nights walking through the bustling night markets in Taipei with all the aroma of food being and seeing what each stall had to offer and deciding what to eat—which is always the challenging part.
These vegan popcorn mushrooms are my take on popcorn chicken I used to enjoy in night markets as a late-night snack or in bubble tea shops with a tall cup of fruit tea.
There’s also this particular food stall in Jiufen that serves a variety of fried food including fried king oyster mushrooms with basil and you get to sprinkle on different seasoning afterwards.
In the two times I’ve climbed those steps leading to the Old Street in Jiufen I had to get those mushrooms paired with a fruit tea as the perfect snack to refuel.
These are oyster mushrooms fried to a crisp with some basil leaves and finished off with some salt.
OYSTER MUSHROOMS AND BASIL
I used fresh white oyster mushrooms for this and I find that these yield the best texture as compared toe king oyster or shiitake mushrooms.
Oyster mushrooms have these somewhat ‘ridged’ texture and after they’re fried they become so crispy and the salt and seasoning easily seeps in those ridges. I find that these are the perfect mushrooms for this popcorn mushrooms recipe!
I love frying this with basil as well because of that added crunch and flavour. I usually use either Thai or sweet basil for this since they grow abundantly at home.
Make sure your basil is dried well when you wash it because water can cause splashing when frying!
COATING AND FRYING THE MUSHROOMS
The coating is really just starch (potato or corn starch) with some seasoning. So easy!
Just toss the mushrooms to evenly coat in the starch!
FRY THE MUSHROOMS UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN AND CRISP!
The oil has to be very hot to make sure the mushrooms get crisp without absorbing much oil. Then drain the mushrooms from the oil when golden brown and crisp!
Frying the basil
You’ll know the basil is ready when it turns translucent!
ENJOY YOUR POPCORN MUSHROOMS!
I finished off the mushrooms with a sprinkle of onion salt (or just regular salt!) and sometimes like to add some more five spice powder.
I really miss the food in Taiwan, but for now this is probably the closest thing I’ll have to tasting their amazing offerings!
I also shared a blogpost about the food I’ve tried during my visits to Taiwan in this blogpost.
Anyway, you’ll also only need 7 ingredients for this really tasty vegan snack that you can munch on. It’s also pretty addicting if you ask me!
Here’s a close-up of these popcorn mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms have an amazing texture and are so good when fried to a crisp!
Find the full recipe for these below!
You can also check out this Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken recipe, that’s similar to this Popcorn Mushrooms recipe, but this uses soy chunks for a meatier texture!
You might enjoy these other vegan recipes:
- Filipino Lumpiang Gulay or Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls
- Japanese Chahan or Fried Rice
- Crispy Eggplant Katsu
- Scalloped Potatoes in Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce
- Chili Garlic and Black Bean Eggplant Noodles
- Easy Sweet, Spicy, and Saucy Noodles
- Stir-Fried Tofu and Basil Noodles
- Pan-Fried Tofu Cakes
- Tofu ‘McNuggets’
Are you looking for more delicious, vegan recipes?
Check out my latest Vegan Kitchen eBook, that has over 95 recipes (and a whole section for Asian recipes!) that are packed with flavour and made with simple and easily accessible ingredients! Also, two trees (instead of 1!) will be planted for every download of my eBook through non-profit organisation One Tree Planted.?
Find out more about my reforestation initiatives here.
If you make this recipe, please tag me on my Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #thefoodietakesflight 🙂
Crispy Taiwanese-Style Popcorn Mushrooms
- 227 g fresh oyster mushrooms see notes(1/2 lb)
- 6 tbsp corn starch or potato starch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder see notes
- Neutral oil for frying
- Handful fresh Thai or Holy basil leaves optional for frying
- Onion salt or garlic salt , or regular salt, for sprinkling after cooking
- White pepper for sprinkling after cooking (optional)
- Break apart large pieces of the mushrooms. If using fresh basil, make sure they're dry since water droplets can cause the oil to splash more when cooking later on.
- Add in the corn or potato starch, salt, and chinese five spice in a bowl. Mix together.
- Afterwards, place the mushrooms in the large bowl.
- Toss the mushrooms well to evenly coat in the starch.
- Heat a large pan and add in neutral oil, enough to submerge the mushrooms. Place over high heat. Once the oil is VERY hot, place in the coated mushrooms. They will bubble once you add them. Note that its important your oil is super hot because if added too soon when oil isn’t sizzling hot yet, the mushrooms will absorb all the oil and get soggy. You may need to cook this in batches depending on the size of your pan.
- Leave the mushrooms to fry for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Move around to ensure that they’re browned throughout. Once they’re lightly brown throughout, remove the mushrooms from the oil, and place on a strainer or a place with some paper towels to drain the excess oil. Repeat this step for the remaining mushrooms.
- After cooking the mushrooms, step away a little from the pan since basil tends to splash when added to the oil.Add in the fresh basil leaves, if using. Leave to cook until the basil leaves have turned slightly translucent and crispy. Remove from the oil and place on a strainer or a place with some paper towels to drain the excess oil.
- Serve the mushrooms and basil. Sprinkle with some more salt and pepper, if desired. Enjoy while hot!
- Fresh mushrooms – don’t wet or wash the mushrooms. I usually only brush off any excess dirt from fresh mushrooms since they do act like sponges and absorb a lot of liquid. You can also use other fresh mushrooms like king oyster/trumpet mushrooms, shiitake
- Five spice powder – If you don’t have chinese 5 spice, feel free to sub with some white pepper and a pinch of cinnamon
- Cooked mushrooms – Make sure you don’t place the mushrooms in an enclosed container especially if they haven’t cooled down completely because they’ll turn soggy.
- Fresh basil – be careful when frying basil since they tend to splatter when placed in the oil. Also be sure your basil has no water droplets because they can splash even more when placed in the oil to fry.
This Post Has 10 Comments
Hi! if we use oven baked, how will the recipe differ? Thank you!
Hi Andrea!I personally haven’t tried baking these so I’m not sure how they’d turn out. But I don’t think it’s a very good idea to bake these since mushrooms tend to release liquid when cooked down slowly so you’ll want to cook these fast to really get that nice crisp coating on the outside while the mushrooms stay “juicy” inside. Air-frying might work better as it cooks food faster.
Thanks so much Sara, hope you enjoyed these!! 🙂
I was going to ask if air frying might work… what temp & time do you think? Thanks keen to try ?
Hi Jez! I wouldn’t recommend air-frying fresh mushrooms in the starch since mushrooms release liquid really fast so they can end up just logging. I personally haven’t tried it but if you decide to, I’d recommend going for the highest temp settings (around 380-400F) to get the coating really crisp. I also have a soy chunks version of this recipe, and these can be better air-fried since the soy chunks won’t release liquid. The recipe is here: https://thefoodietakesflight.com/taiwanese-style-popcorn-chicken-vegan/ Hope this helps!
Wow! There’s not many ingredients involved so we weren’t sure how good they would be. They are so yummy and really addictive. Your recipe was so clear to follow and we are going to have more tomorrow since I have another pack of mushrooms. Thanks 🙂
Hi Susan really happy you guys enjoyed it ◡̈ thanks so much
Hello! I’m wondering if i could sub the fresh oyster mushrooms to dried shiitake instead? What would you recommend if I’ll try this recipe? Thanks!
Hi Charise! You can but the texture will change of course. Be sure to dry/squeeze out water from the shiitake mushrooms well before you coat it so it can be nice and crispy when fried. If not the water can seep out and you’ll get soggy mushrooms. Hope this helps!