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CHICKEN-FRIED HEN OF THE WOODS

SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE STUDIO

By combining the ‘fried chicken’ cooking method and the ‘hen of the woods’ mushroom, we created a vegetarian version of the fast food classic: chicken nuggets. This recipe works well as slow fast food — it’s quickly cooked, uses familiar flavours and incorporates rare or regional ingredients in an interesting way. You may not be able to replicate the shape of a chicken nugget precisely, because mushrooms are not as malleable as meat slurry. But hopefully the flavourful buttermilk, lime and sage dressing outcompetes industrialised ketchup and barbecue sauce for flavour nirvana.
Ingredients

HEN OF THE WOODS:
1 kg hen of the woods [grifola frondosa]
mushrooms [or substitute with oyster, abalone,
portobello or crimini mushrooms]
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
31 g arrowroot powder
31 g cornflour or all-purpose flour
125 ml vegetable oil, preferably peanut
or palm [non-hydrogenated]
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves only

BUTTERMILK, LIME AND SAGE DRESSING
240 ml buttermilk
15 ml sour cream
30 ml almond, grapeseed or refined peanut oil
Juice of 4 limes
1 wild lime leaf, bruised; zest of 1 wild lime [optional]
15 ml honey
2 g garlic, minced
1.5 g salt, plus more to taste
5 g fresh sage, chopped
10 g fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

_Cut mushrooms to the size of a chicken nugget. Sprinkle salt and pepper over mushrooms and let stand for 30 minutes. Combine arrowroot and cornstarch in a glass pie plate. Dredge mushrooms in mixture, dusting off excess. Place mushrooms in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
_Heat the oil in a deep skillet at medium heat. Fry the sage leaves until golden and crisp; watch carefully and remove before they burn. Cool on paper towels. Set aside.
_Drop mushrooms gently into the oil and fry until crisp, golden and tender on the inside, about 3 minutes per side. Ensure that the mushrooms are not crowded in the pan and fry in batches, skimming any crispy bits from the surface or bottom of the pan to prevent darkening of the oil. Cool on paper towels set on a rack or sieve. Keep warm in the oven if necessary.
_Place sage, buttermilk and lime dressing ingredients in glass jar with lid and shake. If using wild lime leaf, remove before serving.
_Upon serving, garnish mushrooms with crispy-fried sage leaves and dressing.