This salt and pepper mushroom, Jiāo yán gū (椒盐菇) is crunchy with a spicy peppery heat in every bite. I just love how it blooms when fried which is why I name it flower mushrooms. Flower mushroom or fa gu is a type of mushroom but this recipe uses king oyster mushrooms.
Salt and pepper is one of the classic flavor combinations for a lot of dishes that I grew up with especially in seafood. The heat comes from the combination of pepper and chile and uses a simple seasoning — salt! This flavor combo goes so well with the crispy mushrooms and makes a great side dish or serve with rice.
What is great about the recipe is that you can use a variety of mushrooms such as oyster, bella, or button. It goes well with fried tofu or seitan too. The steps are so simple that you can easily make this for any weeknight dinner!
How to make salt and pepper mushrooms
Step 1: Prepare the mushrooms
Similar to the preparation of the vegan roast ‘chicken’ and vegan lemon ‘chicken’ recipes, I’m using king oyster mushrooms that I slice into thick rounds, about 2.5 to 3 inches tall. Reserve the top for another dish.
Then, use a pair of chopsticks (inspired by Ajian’s YouTube) to hold the bottom of the stem as a guider and criss-cross cut to create ‘strings’ that will blossom when fried.
Fill a pot of water and set to high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, season with salt and add the mushrooms, uncut side down. Gently submerge the mushrooms occasionally when they float to the top. Boil for about 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms turn from white to grayish.
Remove and let cool. Then, gently squeeze the stem to remove excess water.
Step 2: Cook and serve the mushrooms
In a large shallow plate, add the cornstarch and season with salt and pepper. Coat the mushrooms thoroughly with the starch, rubbing the creases as needed, then shake off excess.
Fill a small saucepan halfway with oil and heat it to 325°F (165°C). To check if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of mushroom into the hot oil. If it sizzles, then it’s ready.
Then, carefully slide in 1 to 2 mushrooms into the hot oil, bottom side down. Fry in batches especially if you have a small pot. The mushrooms will start to blossom like a flower in hot oil. Gently nudge it to prevent it from sticking. Fry until golden brown and crispy.
Remove and transfer to a paper-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Continue with the remaining mushrooms.
Now, heat a large wok with a drizzle of oil and sauté garlic, chile, and scallions until fragrant. Add the fried mushrooms and season with pepper and salt. Quickly toss to combine. Turn off the heat and plate. Add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil before serving.
Salt and pepper flower mushrooms cooking tips
- Other ways to cook the mushrooms – To air fry or bake these, use the batter steps to prepare from my Korean ‘fried’ tofu.
- When coating the mushrooms, be sure to rub the creases with cornstarch so it will be crispy all around when fried.
- When adding the salt to the last step, sprinkle it all over
Why you need this salt and pepper flower mushrooms recipe
- Easy and quick
- Perfect as snack or side dish with rice
- Crispy on the outside and savory
- Tasty and scrumptious
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Salt and Pepper Flower Mushrooms
- 2 lbs King Oyster mushrooms
- 1 cup cornstarch plus more if needed
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 red jalapeños seeds removed, finely chopped
- 4 stalks scallions finely chopped, plus more for garnish
- salt to taste
- white and black pepper
- cooking oil
- First, clean the mushrooms with a brush to remove debris. Then, slice the stem crosswise into 3 thick rounds, about 2.5-inch tall. Reserve the cap for other dishes.
- To make the floret, place one stem in between two chopsticks. The chopstick will be your guide so you don’t cut through the stem. Using a sharp knife, criss-cross the mushroom and stop slicing right before you hit the chopstick. Repeat the same step with the remaining stems.
- Fill a large skillet with water and set it to high. Once it comes to a boil, season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Carefully drop in the cut stems, uncut side down, into the hot water. Boil while submerging them occasionally until they turn from white to grayish, about 3-5 minutes.
- Sieve out and let cool. Then, gently squeeze each stem to remove excess water.
- Next, add 1 cup of cornstarch to a large shallow plate, then season with ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper. Mix well. Then, coat the mushroom generously with the starch, rubbing the creases as needed. Transfer to a cleaned plate and repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Now, fill a small saucepan with oil halfway through and heat it to 325F. To check if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of mushroom in, if it sizzles then the oil is ready.
- Carefully drop in 1 to 2 mushrooms into the hot oil, the bottom side goes in first, and fry until golden brown. Fry in batches to avoid them from sticking together. Remove and transfer to a paper-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
- Mix ½ teaspoon of each in a small bowl until combine: salt, white pepper, black pepper. To put together, heat a large wok with 3 teaspoons of oil and sautè garlic, jalapeños, and scallions until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, salt and peppers then quickly toss to combine. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Drizzle with a splash of toasted sesame oil before serving.
- When adding the salt to the mushrooms during the last few tosses, try to sprinkle it over.