Asian Cooking

Sichuan Crisp Fried Wild Mushrooms

Chef, food writer and culinary instructor Kian Lam Kho can and will teach you how to make delicious, authentic Chinese food that will have you tossing out your takeout menus. If you can’t make it to one of his cooking classes, pick up a copy of his new book, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees. Kho’s detailed technique instructions flow seamlessly into intuitive recipes that any home cook can pull off with ease.

The batter used in this recipe is based on Japanese tempura batter. It is light and crisp while having the effect of bringing out the mushroom flavor. But the spicy and numbing flavor of the Sichuan spiced salt, made with dried red chile and Sichuan peppercorns, is all Chinese. This is a great vegetarian finger food for a party.

Reprinted with permission from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees

Sichuan Crisp Fried Wild Mushrooms

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Level of Difficulty: Easy Serving Size: 4 or more as an appetizer, 2 or more when paired with another vegetable dish

Ingredients

Scant cup enoki mushrooms

1/2 cup white beech mushrooms

1/2 cup brown beech mushrooms

Sichuan spiced salt

6 to 7 dried red chilies, to taste

2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns

2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Batter

1/2 cup cake flour

2/3 cup tapioca starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg white

4 cups vegetable oil

1/2 cup toasted sesame oil

chopped scallions

chopped cilantro

Directions

For the mushrooms

Trim off and discard the root end of the mushrooms and pull them all apart as much as you can. Combine the three types of mushrooms in a bowl. Do not wash them.

To make the spiced salt, put the chilies and Sichuan peppercorns in a dry wok. Toast the spices over low heat, tossing them around to make sure not to burn them. When you start to smell the fragrance from the spices, after about 3 minutes, turn off the heat. Transfer the spices to a plate to cool. Pulse the cooled spices a few times in a blender or mini food processor until they are pulverized. They don’t have to be ground into a fine powder. Combine with the coarse sea salt in a bowl and mix well.

To make the batter, combine the cake flour, tapioca starch, and salt in a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, whip the egg white until it holds soft peaks. Whisk 1½ cups ice-cold water into the flour mixture. Don’t worry if the resulting batter is a little lumpy. Fold in the egg white.

Heat the vegetable and sesame oils together in a wok to about 350°F, or to the point when a drop of the batter sizzles and rolls in the oil. Separate the mushrooms into four equal batches. Put one portion in a small bowl and ladle about one-quarter of the batter over it. Coat the mushrooms evenly in the batter and then drop them into the hot oil. Fry the mushrooms for about 3 minutes and then turn them over. Continue to fry for another minute, until crisp and creamy in color but not browned. Using a skimmer, transfer the mushrooms to a paper towel to drain. Immediately start to fry the next batch.

Work as quickly as possible so you can serve the mushrooms hot.

Sprinkle chopped scallions and cilantro over the mushrooms and serve with the spiced salt alongside.

Asian Cooking

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