Crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, this vegan lemon chicken is sure to whet your appetite!
Ahhh.. mushrooms – what can you not do? Even before I turned vegetarian many years ago, mushrooms have been a staple food in my diet. I especially love the thick dried Shiitake mushrooms and they smell sooo good even in dried form.
There are many ways to add the 5th flavor – umami to a dish. One of them is to use mushrooms. There are all sorts of mushrooms with different textures, such as Shiitake, portabello, oysters, king oysters, and lion’s mane just to name a few.
I’ve seen more and more types of mushrooms available at major grocery stores these days. Some are sold in package sampler where you can try different types of mushrooms in one sitting. Because fresh mushrooms have a short shelf life so I only get them when needed. I do, however, stock up on dried Shiitake mushrooms because I often use them.
Today, we’ll talk about king oyster mushrooms – also known as Eryngii or King Trumpet mushrooms! How you can turn these gems into vegan chicken cutlets with a special cooking and cutting method. Then, I simply drenched it in the tempura batter mix and deep-fried (air-fried/bake) until golden brown. No, it’s not done, I also made a refreshing lemon sauce and drizzled it on top for a drool-worthy dish. Let’s get started!
How to make Vegan Lemon Chicken
Step 1: Prepare the mushrooms
To make this recipe, it’s best to use a large king oyster mushroom stem (organic if possible), about 6″-7″ tall. First, clean mushrooms with a paper towel or brush to remove debris. Then, cook the mushrooms in hot water seasoned with salt for about 10 minutes. Remove and immediately soak it in an ice-cold bath to stop the cooking.
To cut the mushrooms into cutlet shape, you’ll need a sharp knife. Pat the mushroom dry and lay it on a sturdy flat surface or chopping board. Using a knife, make a large slit from the cap towards the stem. Turn the knife to ‘peel’ the mushrooms like how you peel an apple in a spiral motion. Aim to keep it as a whole between 5mm – 1cm thick piece, depending on how large the mushroom is. Then, gently score both sides.
Now, combine the seasoning in a baking tray or large plate. Rub mushrooms generously with the marinade and let it sit for 10-20 minutes.
Step 2: Cook the mushrooms
Meanwhile, combine the tempura batter mix with water as directed on the package and stir until no lumps appear. I used a 2/3 cup of water to 1 cup of mix for a thicker coating.
Add about 5-6 cups of oil in a large wok or adjust the amount of oil needed based on the size of your pan. Once it’s heated to 350F, dredge mushroom cutlet in the batter, shake off excess, and slowly slide it in the hot oil. Fry both sides until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes total. Please check the section below for the air-fry and bake method.
To keep the crispy texture, I like to place the fried mushroom on a drain rack as soon as it’s fried. If you find that it has lost its crispiness while you make the sauce, simply toast or bake in the oven at 375F for about 3 minutes. Then, cut it into pieces. These can be enjoyed as-is or with the lemon sauce below.
Step 3: Make the vegan lemon chicken sauce
When making lemon sauce, I try to impart all the whole lemon in it – the zest and juice. While I like the acidity from a lemon, adding rice or distilled vinegar gives the sauce another dimension of tang. This is similar to mixing two types of sugar to create a more robust sweetness.
To make the sauce, mix together lemon zest, maple syrup, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, water and cornstarch in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Then slowly pour the sauce into a heated skillet. As soon as it starts to boil, add lemon slices and continue to cook until thickened. Taste and season accordingly depending on how sour or sweet you want it to be.
Then drizzle this sauce over the crispy vegan lemon chicken.
3 methods to cook the mushroom
Method 1: Deep or Shallow Fry
This is no doubt the easiest way to get the crispy texture. Be sure the temperature is hot enough (350F) when you add in the battered mushrooms. Fry in batches if you don’t have a large pan or wok. Overcrowding will make them stick together. To ensure the fried mushroom stays crispy, I drain it on a rack once I remove it from the oil. Or you can reheat or keep it in a preheated oven while you make the sauce.
Method 2: Air-fry
I’ve been using my air-fryer a lot lately when I opt for easier cleaning especially fried food. To air-fry, preheat it to 390F (the fries setting) for 3 minutes. Then, grease the inner rack. Place the coated mushrooms on it and air-fry for 6 minutes, pause the air fryer.
Remove the inner rack, brush a thin layer of oil on top of the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 6 minutes. This step will give the mushrooms a nice golden brown layer. Note: Air-fried method yields a crispy texture but will start to turn soft quicker. Similar to the deep-fried steps, you can air-fry it again before serving with the sauce.
Method 3: Bake
The baking method allows you to cook all mushrooms at once especially if you don’t have a large air-fryer or wok like me. First, preheat the oven to 425F. Lay the battered mushrooms on a lined greased pan, spray or dab oil on top of the mushrooms. Bake until golden brown for 20-25 minutes, with a flip in between if needed. To get a more brownish look, I like to broil it over low settings for the last few minutes. This method has the lightest golden brown compared to fried or air-fried.
Vegan Lemon Chicken FAQ
1. Why you need to boil the mushroom
If you have cooked with king oyster mushrooms before, you’ll notice that it’s a challenge to cut them into a cutlet shape. However, once the whole mushroom stem is cooked in water, they are very pliable. You can easily use a knife and cut them in a spiral motion like how you peel an apple. You can see how juicy it is when you cut it.
2. Tempura Batter mix
I used a store-bought crispy tempura batter mix from Kikkoman that is available at major grocery stores or online. For a no wheat version, opt for gluten-free batter mix.
Check out other recipes made from mushrooms
This vegan lemon chicken is
- crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside
- easily customizable to be gluten-free with a gluten-free batter mix
- simple to make with 3 options to prepare the mushrooms
- Unbelievably TASTY!
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!
Vegan Lemon Chicken
- 300 g [10.5oz] King oyster mushrooms
- 1 cup crispy tempura batter mix used Kikkoman
- neutral oil for frying
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons vinegar rice or distilled
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 lemon slices
- zest from 1 lemon
- To prepare the mushrooms, clean them with a brush or paper towel to remove debris.
- Prepare a bowl with ice water and set it aside. Then, fill a wok or large skillet with water with ¼ – ½ teaspoon of salt, and bring it to a boil. Cook the mushrooms for about 10 minutes. The mushrooms should have a glossy outer layer once cooked. Remove and soak it in the ice water bath to stop the cooking.
- Before cutting the mushrooms, pat dry with a cloth or paper towel to remove moisture. Give them a gentle squeeze if needed.
- Next, prepare the marinade by combining soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, and pepper in a large shallow plate or baking pan.
- To cut the mushroom into a cutlet shape, place it on a sturdy work surface. Using a sharp knife, make a slit from the cap to the stem. Slice it in a spiral motion like how you peel an apple to get a 1cm thick piece. Then, gently score both sides so they better absorb the sauce.
- Transfer mushrooms cutlet to the marinade, then rub both sides generously with the liquid. Marinate for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together tempura batter mix with water until no large lumps appear.
- Now, fill a large wok with 5-6 cups of oil and turn on the heat. Once the oil is heated to about 350F, dredge a mushroom cutlet in the batter and slowly slide it into the oil. Fry both sides until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes, with a flip if necessary. Remove and transfer to a drain rack to cool down a little before cutting. The drain rack will keep it crispy while you make the sauce.
- For other ways to cook the mushroom cutlet, please refer to the ‘3 ways to cook the mushroom’ section.
- To make the lemon sauce, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a bowl (except lemon slices) until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the sauce in a heated small skillet and bring it to a boil. Once the sauce starts to simmer, add in the lemon slices and continue to cook the sauce until thickened. The sauce will start to thicken as soon as you see large bubbles. Turn off the heat and spoon this sauce over the cut mushrooms cutlet. Serve warm with rice or as-is.
- Place the batter in the fridge to keep it cold while you fry the mushrooms cutlet, especially when you are frying in batches.
- Adjust the sweetness and tang of the lemon sauce by adjusting the maple syrup and lemon juice accordingly.
Feel free to pin the below picture on your Pinterest Board for easy reference.
Products I used:
Kikkoman Crispy Tempura Batter mix
Vegan oyster sauce
Note: The new version of this at the store is gluten-free but not online. Alternatively, you can make your own using this recipe.
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means if you decide to purchase through my link I will receive a small commission for qualified purchases. Some products shown may have different brands from Amazon that I recommend as a suggestion. The links are embedded in the picture or shown as hyperlinks.