There are a fair few steps to the process, so here’s a quick break down with pics to help you out.
The Hot Agave
The aim here is to infuse the agave syrup with a mild kick of spice. First, you mix the water and agave together in a saucepan, before adding the chillis. You then need to bring to a boil over medium heat to really infuse that chili kick. The steam which comes off will have a bit of chili heat to it as well, so be sure to have your extractor on for this one. Once the mixture is nice and reduced, sieve out the chillis and leave to cool.
We won’t be using the top or tough bottom of the king oyster mushrooms, so you can slice these off and reserve them for another recipe. It makes life easier when pulling the mushrooms apart to score a cross into one end of the mushroom. That way, when the mushroom breaks apart, it’s guaranteed to break into quarters.
Once you’ve broken all your mushrooms into strips, set them aside.
This is a two-part batter, so you’ll need two medium bowls. One will contain your “buttermilk” mixture (made from soy milk and apple cider vinegar) and the other will contain your dry flour mixture. Heat up some neutral oil in a saucepan or deep fryer. If you have a probe thermometer, you’re aiming for 170c. Once your oil is hot, roll a strip of mushroom in the flour mixture before dropping in the “buttermilk” and then back into the flour. It’s now ready for frying. Be sure to fry in batches of no more than three as you’ll reduce the temperature of the oil too much and your strips won’t brown.
Using a pastry brush, glaze each of the strips with a little of the hot agave. Sprinkle with some fresh thyme and a little flaky sea salt. You can serve these guys however you’d like – on a platter with some gherkins and plenty of hot sauce, or in a soft white bun with some house sauce. The house sauce couldn’t be easier – just mix together the vegan mayo, sriracha, gherkin juice, and liquid smoke.
These guys also work really well baked, with just a few tweaks. Instead of the flour in your batter mixture, use 200g of very stale bread (ideally sourdough). Place the bread in the cup of a high-speed blender or food processor and blitz to fine crumbs. Stir in the salt and spices. Roll the mushroom strips in the “buttermilk” mixture first, then in the bread crumbs before placing on the wire rack of a grill tray. Bake at 180c for 30-40 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.