Meaty, Versatile, and Nutritious, Oyster Mushrooms Have It All—Here's How to Cook With Them

Despite the name, oyster mushrooms have nothing to do with mollusks or the ocean. You’re actually most likely to find one in the wild if you’re walking through one of the world’s temperate or subtropical forests. But if that’s a little out of reach, you can also easily find them in grocery stores.

Oyster mushrooms are nutritious, versatile, and often hailed by vegans for their meaty texture. But how do you cook with them? And what plant-based recipes do they work best in? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. But first, let’s take a closer look at what oyster mushrooms actually are.

What are oyster mushrooms?

Oyster mushrooms (or, if you’re sciencey, Pleurotus ostreatus) are incredibly common. They’re a type of fungi that grows naturally on trees, but they’re also cultivated in many countries for commercial purposes. They earned the name “oyster mushroom,” because of their shape, which is similar to an oyster shell. They come in many different colors and varieties, but the king oyster mushroom, which has a thick meaty stem, is the largest.

The world’s top producer of oyster mushrooms is China, which is responsible for more than 85 percent of the market. But they’re also produced in several other countries, like Japan, Italy, and Thailand.

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How do oyster mushrooms taste?

With a smooth, meaty texture, oyster mushrooms have a slightly earthy taste to them, with a hint of anise. But some also say they taste kind of like seafood—which makes their name even more apt. “Oyster mushrooms are often described as ‘briny’ or having a delicate seafood flavor,” notes the Mushroom Council. “Their texture is velvety and dense, and when pan seared, their edges turn deliciously crisp.”

Oyster mushrooms nutrition 

Oyster mushrooms aren’t just tasty, like most edible types of fungi, they’re also good for your health. They’re a source of protein and carbohydrates, and they also contain fiber, vitamin B5, niacin, folate, potassium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and choline. Plus, they’re also a good source of antioxidants. These are plant molecules that help to reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals in the body.

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In China, oyster mushrooms have been renowned for their potential health benefits for centuries. “The pink oyster mushroom and other mushrooms of the genus Pleurotus have been prized for centuries for their nutritional value and delicious taste,” notes Hifas da Terra, a biotechnology company focused on mycology. “In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), oyster mushrooms are prescribed for ‘relaxation of muscles, joints, and tendons, to strengthen circulation and to increase kidney function.’”

How to cook with oyster mushrooms

There are a few different ways to cook oyster mushrooms. You can roast or bake them or you could boil them in salted water. But one of the best, and most popular ways, to cook oyster mushrooms (and get that delicious crispy texture) is to pan-fry them over high heat.

Vegan oyster mushroom recipes

Want to know more about how to cook with oyster mushrooms? You’ve come to the right place! Here are some of the best, and tastiest, vegan oyster mushroom recipes.

VegNews.OysterMushroomPoBoyLauren Toyota

1 Oyster Mushroom Po’Boy

A Louisiana classic, po’ boy sandwiches are usually stacked with salad and some sort of meaty filling, like roast beef. But seafood is another popular choice. However, you can get all the same deliciously satisfying taste and texture by swapping in crispy oyster mushrooms. For extra mouthwatering flavor, drizzle over some homemade Thousand Island dressing.
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VegNews.GrilledMushroomsNadine Horn and Jörg Mayer

2 Tangy Grilled King Oyster Mushroom Skewers

Boost the flavor of your king oysters by marinading them in tangy balsamic vinegar, which is mixed with garlic and thyme, as well as some oil and a little salt. After that, they’re ready to be skewered onto bamboo and cooked over the grill. This is the ultimate recipe for vegan barbecue season.
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VegNews.MushroomsJeeca Uy

3 Vegan Korean Bulgogi Mushrooms

Again, this recipe is an absolute must for the summer months when you’re gathered around the barbecue. Bulgogi (which literally means ‘fire meat’ in Korean) usually refers to marinated beef, which is grilled over a barbecue. But beef is absolutely not a necessity when it comes to cooking this traditional dish, as mushrooms work just as well. Just make sure you make enough, as your loved ones are guaranteed to be asking you for more when grilling season rolls around.
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VegNews.PozoleAlejandra Graf

4 Mexican Pozole

Pozole usually refers to a spicy Mexican soup that features hominy and pork meat (sometimes it’s made with chicken too). But thanks to the meaty texture of oyster mushrooms, you can get the same deliciously fiery taste and experience, without any animal products whatsoever.
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VegNews.oystermushroomsrecipesMartin Nordon

5 Miso Soup With King Oyster Mushrooms

If it’s cold and drizzly outside, a nice warming bowl of miso soup is just what you need. And, for an extra boost of nutrition, as well as texture and flavor, upgrade the standard recipe with oyster mushrooms, quinoa, and seaweed.
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VegNews.PocChucIgnacio ‘Nacho’ Urquiza

6 Vegan Poc Chuc With Mushrooms

Poc Chuc is a meaty flavorful dish that hails from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Again, it’s traditionally made with pork, which is marinated in citrus juice, grilled, and then served with pickled onions and rice. But if you want to skip the meaty part, substitute in portobello or king oyster mushrooms (or both) instead.
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