Fried mushrooms are crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. Pictured here are morel mushrooms. It is remarkable how frying turns these harbingers of spring into a fun snack or appetizer. If you decide to follow suit just be sure to clean these wild specimens thoroughly since their sponge-like texture tends to hold plenty of what we'll politely call grit from the forest floor.
Whereas most fried mushroom recipes use a batter to coat the fungi, this recipe keeps things simple and ultra-easy with a quick dip in buttermilk and then a light dredge in seasoned flour, just like the best fried chicken. This is as much a method as it is a recipe, so feel free to make larger or smaller batches as befits your audience.
- 1 pound mushrooms
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more for sprinkling
- Oil for frying (peanut, vegetable, grapeseed, or canola oil)
- Trim, rinse, and thoroughly dry the mushrooms. Small mushrooms can be left whole; larger specimens are best cut into pieces that can be eaten in one or two bites. Put the mushrooms in a medium bowl, pour the buttermilk over them, and toss them with the buttermilk to coat. Set aside.
- Bring about 1/2 inch oil in a wide, heavy pot to 350F to 375F over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain that temperature range. It's best to test the temperature by using a thermometer, but dipping the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil works too: If the oil immediately bubbles around the handle, it is hot enough to fry the mushrooms; if it doesn't bubble right away, it's not hot enough; if it bubbles quickly and violently, the oil is too hot.
- While the oil heats, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl or re-sealable plastic bag. Drain the mushrooms or lift them out of the buttermilk. Toss them gently in the flour mixture to coat them thoroughly.
- Shake any excess flour off the mushrooms as you lift them out of the flour. Add enough of them to form a single layer in the oil. The single-layer bit is key: if the mushrooms are too crowded and not free to bob around in the hot oil a bit, instead of cooking evenly and turning golden and crunchy, bits will remain soggy and get oily.
- Fry until they turn golden to medium brown and the mushrooms are tender all the way through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms with tongs or a slotted spoon to a cooling rack set over paper towels. Sprinkle with more salt (if you're a salt fiend, consider using big crystals of crunchy sea salt at this point) and serve hot. Repeat with remaining mushrooms, only cooking as many as can fit in a single layer in the oil at a time.