These Chinese fried char siu oyster mushrooms will really tantalise your tastebuds! With a simple homemade char siu marinade and quick frying, these crispy oyster mushrooms are quick and easy and full of umami-rich Chinese flavours. This is the perfect vegan alternative to char siu pork. It’s also gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free! Serve with sushi rice and quick pickled salad to cut through the richness for a light, perfectly balanced portion of absolute yum!
- Why you will love this Chinese fried oyster mushroom recipe!
- Why use oyster mushrooms for this vegan char siu recipe?
- How do you prepare oyster mushrooms?
- Main ingredients
- How to make this recipe
- Knife skills
- Serving suggestions
- Making ahead, leftovers and storage
- Chinese fried char siu oyster mushrooms FAQs
- 📖 Recipe 📖
Having lived in Singapore for over 4 years, my family are quite partial to Chinese cuisine and especially fond of char siu pork. My husband loves to make it, marinating it overnight and then slow cooking it on the barbecue.
When I turned vegan, he was disappointed that I wouldn’t be participating in this long-favoured family tradition. So, I decided to try out making a vegan version that I could enjoy eating with them.
Now I make these Chinese fried oyster mushrooms every time my family eat char siu pork and the kids always ask to have some of the mushrooms as well (quite unbelievable given that they all supposedly hate mushrooms!).
Once, I took this dish to a friend’s house as a little amuse bouche at her party. My friends loved it so much and could not get over the fact that it was vegan!
Why you will love this Chinese fried oyster mushroom recipe!
- These vegan char siu oyster mushrooms have a meatiness to them and carry all the flavours of traditional char siu pork but without the meat!
- Rich with Chinese flavours, these oyster mushrooms are crispy and light at the same time! They are so moreish that you can’t stop popping them into your mouth!
- Frying caramelises the sugars in the marinade which adds crispness and intensifies the sweet umami flavours of the mushrooms.
- The sweet sticky char siu marinade flavours work really well with the pickled salad. It cuts through the richness and makes the meal lighter, healthier and balanced.
- Quick and easy to make, you just mix the marinade ingredients together and stir them into the mushrooms then leave to marinate for a few hours. After that, it’s just a case of quickly frying the mushrooms for a minute or two on each side, then you’re done!
- Even my mushroom hating children actually love this dish! The crispiness and sweetness seems to win them over as it loses that slimy mushroom texture that they dislike.
Why use oyster mushrooms for this vegan char siu recipe?
Many vegan char siu recipes use seitan to replicate the pork texture. However, if you are gluten-free then seitan is no use to you since it is made with gluten.
I really love the meatiness and slight chewiness of the oyster mushrooms in this recipe. Feel free to use pressed firm tofu cubes instead for a high protein alternative.
How do you prepare oyster mushrooms?
All mushrooms soak up water like a sponge. That’s great for marinating but not so great for cleaning! So, instead of washing them (which can make them soggy), wipe them with a damp cloth or brush off the dirt with a pastry brush.
If your oyster mushrooms come in a bundle all attached to the same big stem, use a sharp knife to cut the mushrooms off the main stem. Cut off any woody hard stems from the larger mushrooms. There’s no need to chop the pearl oyster mushrooms any more than that as you can use them whole for this recipe. You will, however, need to slice the larger king oyster mushrooms.
Char Siu Mushrooms
- oyster mushrooms – Pearl oyster mushrooms work best for this recipe as they’re lovely and big with a soft but slightly chewy, almost meaty, texture, that soaks up the marinade well. I wouldn’t use chestnut or button mushrooms as they don’t soak up the flavours in the same way. Also, the bigger the mushroom, the less little pieces you need to turn in the pan! Having said that, if you choose to use the really large king oyster mushrooms, you will need to slice them lengthways first so that they soak up the marinade well and cook quickly.
- hoisin sauce – I use my quick homemade hoisin sauce that I usually have lurking at the back of the fridge somewhere but you could use any shop bought version instead. If you are gluten-free, just make sure to check the label as commercial hoisin sauce usually contains gluten (which is why I make my own instead – I spend far too much time looking at labels!).
- tamari – this is a naturally gluten-free kind of soy sauce, but you could use any gluten-free soy sauce or even coconut aminos.
- rice vinegar – if you don’t have rice vinegar, you could substitute with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
- coconut sugar or brown rice syrup – this adds a little sweetness. You could use maple syrup instead or dark brown muscovado sugar.
- Chinese 5 spice powder – you can find this easily in the shops and it adds an instantly recognisable Chinese flavour to your food. It’s easy to make yourself if you want.
- garlic powder – you could use chopped fresh garlic instead if you prefer but you would need to be a bit careful not to burn the garlic when frying the mushrooms so try to scrape off the pieces of garlic when you lift the mushrooms out of the marinade.
- carrots, cabbage, red onions – I find these vegetables work well with the vegan char siu mushrooms but you can switch to any others you prefer. You could add julienned cucumber which adds a lovely contrasting dark green colour. As cucumber is very watery, you need to salt it first and then leave in a sieve over a jug for a while to get some of the water out. After that, rinse off the cucumber and dry it before adding to the pickle mixture.
- The pickling juice is made from rice vinegar (or substitute as suggested in the section above) mixed with a small pinch of salt and dash of maple syrup.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities of ingredients.
How to make this recipe
It is so easy to make these delicious vegan char siu mushrooms. The pickled salad benefits from sitting in the fridge soaking up the pickling juice for an hour or so and the mushrooms benefit from marinating for an hour or so too (although you could make them quickly if you really need to), so start this recipe ahead of time and then it just takes a few minutes to cook it when you’re ready to serve.
First, shred the carrots, cabbage and thinly slice the red onions. Then mix the pickling juice ingredients and pour them over the vegetables. Stir well and cover with a plate. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, stirring occasionally.
Next, mix the char siu marinade ingredients in a cup or a mug. Put the mushrooms into a large dish and pour the marinade mixture over the top. Carefully mix the mushrooms either with your hands or a silicon spatula. I find the wooden spatulas too hard for this job and might break up the mushrooms. Mix so that all parts of each mushroom are covered with the marinade. Then cover with a plate and put in the fridge to marinate.
When you are almost ready to serve the food, make some sushi rice. Follow the cooking instructions on the packet or see this vegan sushi bowl recipe for instructions.
Then, while the rice is cooking, heat some oil in a frying pan and take each mushroom out of the marinade and place in the frying pan with the oil. You may need to do this in two batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan.
Fry for a minute or two then turn each mushroom over (in the same order that you put them into the pan) and fry on the other side for another minute or so. How long you need to fry them depends on the size of your oyster mushrooms but you want them so that they’re deeply caramelized and crispy.
Serve the mushrooms with the sushi rice and pickled vegetables. Garnish with some sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.
Here is a video showing how to make the Char Siu mushrooms:
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions.
For the pickled salad, it’s nice to cut the vegetables into very thin matchsticks (julienned) so that they have maximum surface area for soaking up the pickle flavours.
- Carrots – the easiest way to julienne carrots is with a julienne peeler. This looks like a Y-shaped peeler but it has little notches in it so that it peels thin slivers in shreds. However, if you don’t have one of these peelers, just peel thin slices with a normal peeler and then lay each slice flat on the chopping board and slice it again into small matchsticks.
- Cabbage – because of the way cabbage grows, it’s very easy to shred! You just need to get a normal peeler and peel it. It will come out shredded! Alternatively, you could cut off one side of the cabbage then lay the cut side on the chopping board and thinly slice along that wedge.
- Red onions – first cut the onion in half then cut off the top (not the root) of each half and peel away the outer skin. Next, lay the cut side of the onion on the chopping board and hold the onion from the root end. Thinly slice across the onion from the top along the same lines as the line across where you cut the top off.
Here is a video showing how to chop the vegetables and make the pickled salad:
These vegan char siu mushrooms are strongly flavoured so I like to serve them in small portions as a dinner party starter or amuse bouche. Served with a little portion of seasoned sushi rice and pickled vegetables, it can look very pretty!
Alternatively, you could serve them as part of a main course with some tofu. Just marinate the tofu with the same marinade and air fry or fry it until crispy. They would also be delicious with noodles in a stir fry!
Making ahead, leftovers and storage
You can make the pickled salad and marinate the mushrooms up to a day in advance. Store them in the fridge while marinating and pickling.
Any leftovers of the salad can be used as part of other salads or thrown into a stir-fry.
Chinese fried char siu oyster mushrooms FAQs
I would stick to large firm mushrooms like oyster or possibly shiitake mushrooms. You want a mushroom that is soft and billowy to soak up the flavours of the marinade but firm enough to hold up to frying and to give a chewy meaty texture. Portobello mushrooms, while fulfilling most of these criteria, may be too strongly flavoured so may not give the right flavour profile. Pearl oyster mushrooms are my favourite for this dish but king oyster mushrooms would work well too, if sliced first.
I have tried air frying these Chinese fried oyster mushrooms and they are ok but not nearly as good as the fried version because they lack the caramelisation. However, if you prefer air frying, air fry at 180°C for 6 minutes, turning half way through (again in two batches so that they are spaced apart in the basket).
Since moisture makes mushrooms go soggy and slimy, you need to avoid condensation when storing them. The best way to store them is in a paper bag in the fridge. However, if you bought your mushrooms in a plastic container, peel off the film top when you get home and lay a piece of kitchen towel over the mushrooms instead. This will help to remove any moisture. They should keep fresh in the fridge for a few days before cooking.
📖 Recipe 📖
Vegan Char Siu Mushrooms with Pickled Salad
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon brown rice syrup, (or maple syrup)
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1 carrot, julienned
- ¼ cabbage, shredded
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
Char Siu Marinade
- 50 g hoisin sauce
- 25 g tamari, (or gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
- ½ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 300 g oyster mushrooms, cleaned and separated
- 160 g sushi rice, (optional)
- 2 teaspoon sushi rice seasoning, (optional)
- 2 tablespoon grapeseed oil, or any other flavourless oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, (for garnish)
- First, make the salad by mixing together the rice vinegar, salt and maple syrup in a bowl and adding the shredded vegetables. Mix really well and leave in a covered container in the fridge to soak up the pickle flavour.2 tablespoon rice vinegar, ½ teaspoon brown rice syrup, ¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, 1 carrot, ¼ cabbage, 1 small red onion
- Next, whisk the char siu marinade ingredients together in a jug and pour over the mushrooms. Gently mix the marinade into the mushrooms and place in the fridge to marinate for an hour or longer (up to 4 hours).50 g hoisin sauce, 25 g tamari, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup, ½ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 300 g oyster mushrooms
- If you are serving with sushi rice, you should start to cook it about 10-15 minutes before you start to cook the mushrooms as it takes about 20 minutes to cook (follow the cooking instructions on the packet or see this vegan sushi bowl recipe for instructions).160 g sushi rice, 2 teaspoon sushi rice seasoning
- While the rice is cooking, heat up the oil in a non-stick frying pan to a medium-high heat. Take the mushrooms out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and place them in the hot pan. (It is important to place them spaced apart so that they fry rather than steam, so you might need to do this in two batches). Fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes on each side until they are well caramelised (deep brown and crispy).2 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- Remove each mushroom from the pan as it gets crispy and place on a plate lined with kitchen towel while you finish cooking the rest.
- Serve with a spoonful of the pickled vegetables and some cooked sushi rice. Garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- The best mushrooms to use are the regular pearl oyster mushrooms but you could use sliced king oyster mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms instead.
- Alternatively for a higher protein option, you can use pressed firm tofu instead or as well!
- See the full blogpost for notes on how to prepare the vegetables and mushrooms. This recipe makes a lot of salad and you might not need all of it. It will keep for a few days in the fridge and you can use it with other salads or thrown into stir-fries.
- You could air fry the mushrooms instead (6 minutes at 180°C / 350°F, turning half way through) but it doesn’t taste nearly as good as frying them.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
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