As a born and raised Southerner, it’s hard to convince me that anything that isn’t chicken “tastes like chicken”- especially when it’s battered and fried to golden brown perfection.
While vegetarian and vegan restaurants often claim their served substitutes can emulate the classic crispy bite of fried chicken, I’ve found that they’re merely pacifiers for meat-free folk- not true chicken wannabes.
That is, until I stumbled across the king trumpet mushroom, also known as king oyster mushrooms, freshly available at my favorite Texas grocery store, H-E-B. These jumbo shrooms have a long, thick, cream-colored stem with a grayish cap and are the perfect size and density to use as a protein substitute.
In this case, I’m continuing my journey through Cooking with Mushrooms: A Fungi Lover’s Guide to the World’s Most Versatile, Flavorful, Health-Boosting Ingredients by Andrea Gentl and cooking her dinner recipe for King Trumpet Schnitzel with Green Cabbage Slaw with Citrus and Celery Seeds.
This dinner recipe promises a tasty mushroom cutlet-style centerpiece dish, double-battered and fried to flaky perfection, with a tender inside sure to give poultry a run for its money. Even better, using panko breadcrumbs makes this recipe gluten-free.
Its additional side dish may not be essential, but this acidic slaw is perfect for pairing with your rich, flavorful fried shrooms.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Difficulty: 3/5 mushrooms
4 to 6 large king trumpet (king oyster) mushrooms (about 1 lb/455 g)
4 cups (450 g) panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
4 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
6 large eggs
Coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups (480 mL) neutral oil, such as safflower, for frying (I used vegetable oil)
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for finishing
1 Meyer lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
Mixed Herb Pesto, for serving (I bought this jarred, but you can make your own)
Green Cabbage Slaw with Citrus and Celery Slaw (another recipe in this book!)
MAKES 4 CUPS (360 G)
1/4 head green cabbage, thinly sliced with a mandoline or sharp knife (I used a store-bought bag of sliced cabbage)
1 tablespoon yuzu juice
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon celery seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
To begin this recipe, I first decided to knock out my side slaw to allow the vinegar to pickle the cabbage as I prepared the fried mushrooms.
Preparation was relatively straightforward- admittedly, I did not use a fresh head of cabbage for the slaw, as I usually don’t use cabbage in my everyday cooking. Instead, I opted for a small bag of pre-prepared, thinly sliced green cabbage that easily fed myself and three roommates.
In a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage, yuzu juice, vinegar, honey, and celery seeds. Drizzle in the oil, then toss with the salt and dill. Add more salt to taste, if desired.
The hardest part of preparing the slaw was measuring my liquid ingredients. After dumping my bag of cabbage in a serving bowl, I added all my liquid ingredients, mixed them, and then tossed my fresh dill, salt, and celery seeds with the mixture. I added some extra salt to serve atop my finished mushroom schnitzel.
Preheat your oven to 200 F (95 C).
After washing and drying my king trumpet mushrooms, I preheated my oven to keep my finished schnitzel warm as I fried each piece.
Slice each mushroom lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the thickness. Using a mallet or rolling pin, gently pound the mushroom pieces, flattening the stems while taking care not to break them (they may split a bit, but they will hold together once you batter them).
Pounding out these king trumpet mushrooms like a standard chicken cutlet is essential to an even batter and fry. As the recipe stated, these tender mushrooms maintained their structure even though the edges split and fried evenly. I set these aside in a large bowl for easy accessibility while I battered them.
Set up the ingredients for breading the mushrooms: In a wide shallow bowl, season 2 cups (225 g) of the panko with 1/4 teaspoon of the pink salt and 2 1/4 teaspoons of the turmeric, tossing to combine. In a second wide shallow bowl, beat 3 of the eggs with a little pepper.
I was apprehensive about using so few seasonings for this schnitzel, but I decided against adding more seasonings (not even my trusty garlic powder) to let the recipe do its thing. Turmeric is undoubtedly a standalone flavor when it flies solo, so allowing this key ingredient to shine took this dish from a simple chicken substitute to a crunchy mushroom cutlet deserving of its own spotlight on your everyday dinner menu.
Working with one piece at a time, dip the mushroom slices in the egg first, letting any excess drip off, then the panko, turning to coat completely. Set dipped pieces on a rack as you work.
If you’ve ever fried chicken, or anything for that matter, this is a familiar process. Hack: use one hand for dipping your mushrooms in the egg mixture and another for your dry panko seasoning. This helps keep things a tad bit messy.
Put the remaining 3 eggs in a clean wide shallow bowl and the remaining 2 cups (225 g) panko in another. Season the panko with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 1/4 teaspoons turmeric. Beat the eggs with a little pepper. Dip the breaded mushroom slices again in the eggs, letting the excess drip off, and then the panko. Set the pieces aside until ready to fry.
This double-batter method made this schnitzel some of the crispiest I have ever had- chicken, mushroom, or whatever else. Be sure to submerge and coat the mushrooms with eggs thoroughly, and I pressed mine firmly on both sides into the panko for a full, crispy coat.
In a deep cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, 340 F to 350 F (170 C to 177 C).
Keep your oil temperature in check, as high heat will burn your oil and mushroom breading, derailing the recipe entirely. I use a wooden chopstick to test my oil’s readiness: when tiny bubbles form when you dip the chopstick in the pan, your oil is ready to fry.
Working in batches, fry the breaded mushroom pieces until golden, 3 to 5 minutes per side, turning with a spider or tongs. If they brown too quickly, reduce the heat. Transfer to a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
I used a slotted spoon to place my mushroom pieces in my hot oil gently and used tongs to flip them as they fried. 3-5 minutes is accurate, but keep a close eye on your frying schnitzel to cook them to perfection.
Sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve with lemon wedges, pesto, and green cabbage slaw.
When plating this mushroom schnitzel, I decided to forgo making my own pesto (because olive oil and fresh herbs are too expensive nowadays) and bought a jar of basil pesto made with parmesan, basil, and pine nuts. This, alongside my homemade slaw, perfectly brightened up the richness of the king trumpet mushroom schnitzel.
Frying anything can be challenging, but frying mushrooms seemed further out of my comfort zone. I had never tried king oyster mushrooms- much less fried them.
While flavorful, this dish proved its versatility with endless toppings possibilities. The cabbage slaw was bright and fresh on the side, and the jarred pesto provided an herby zing on top. I’m sure homemade pesto could elevate this dish to another level.
If a southern-style plate is more attractive to you, this entree would be perfect dipped in BBQ sauce, or rewind entirely and opt for some southern seasonings in your batter, like paprika or Slap-Ya-Mama blend.
To my surprise and pleasure, this schnitzel proved to be the best fried chicken dupe I’ve had in my life. The panko batter was full and crispy, and its turmeric flavor complimented the tender, pull-apart king trumpet mushroom meat. On any occasion, this fried delicacy would prove the star of your next dinner party, whether as the main course or fried into bite-sized pieces as an appetizer.
Any way you enjoy king trumpet mushroom schnitzel, you’re bound to be blown away by its buttery, rich flavor, and perfect bite. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or just plain hungry- this dish is guaranteed to wow.