Birds of a feather

Sisters mimic an old classic with a vegan spin.

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One of the simplest pleasures in my life is enjoying a crispy chicken Parmesan with mozzarella cheese and spaghetti underneath it. Something about that crispy coating on a juicy piece of chicken makes this dish irresistible. Although my love for this meal is almost insurmountable, my sister Susan is still a vegan, meaning no more chicken. After grappling with the devastation of this fact for about a week or so, Susan and I decided to get a little crafty by replacing my beloved meal with a vegan alternative. 

We did some research, mainly on TikTok, and found that a lot of vegan influencers use oyster mushrooms as a substitute for chicken because of their meaty texture. In the videos, the cooks coat the mushrooms first in a soy milk and lemon juice mixture, which is supposed to mimic buttermilk, and a seasoned flour. After the breading process, the mushrooms are fried in hot oil until golden brown, and voilà, vegan chicken. 

After seeing many videos of the process, we were convinced we could tackle this challenge ourselves. Let me tell you, we were very impressed. 

Oyster Mushroom Seasoned Flour

1¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1.5 tsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
3 tsp. chili powder 
1 tsp. oregano (dried or fresh)
salt and pepper to taste
This flour mixture is easily adjustable to whatever recipe you’re making. For example, if you’re making a chicken sandwich, then you can add more spice and take out the oregano.

We followed the same process for breading as the videos, except we double-breaded ours to make sure the coating was thick enough to withstand the oil. So we dipped the mushroom in soy milk and lemon juice, then flour, then soy milk and lemon juice again, then a last round of flour. 

After that, it was time to fry. We used a large pan with a sizable wall in order to keep the vegetable oil splashing to a minimum. Once we saw ripples in the oil, which indicates that it’s hot enough, we dropped the mushrooms in. They turned a beautiful golden brown in about three to four minutes.