Firm and “meaty” oyster mushrooms are the perfect choice to get your vegan fajitas fix! These fan-shaped mushrooms are torn into strips and stir-fried with Mexican spices, like cumin and paprika. Serve along with warm tortillas, grilled peppers and onions with a variety of toppings and you have a wonderful vegan oyster mushroom spicy fajita fest.
Growing up in the southwestern part of the USA, I was always ready for a good ol’ Tex-Mex meal, and one of my favorites was fajitas. Fajitas can take many forms, but are usually served on a sizzling plate of grilled meat and veggies. Fast forward to now, when my beef eating days are in the long distant past and I am always on the lookout for how to get a great Mexican taste without the beef.
Have you discovered oyster mushrooms? If you haven’t tried them, oyster mushrooms are Asian fan-shaped mushrooms that are either foraged from a local forest or, nowadays, even grown on mushroom “farms”… lucky for us, our local market offers up bins of freshly foraged oyster mushrooms right here in town.
The first time I had oyster mushrooms, someone prepared them in a braised sauce and I didn’t really like them at all… they tasted too soft and mushy for my tastes (yeah, I know they’re called “mush”rooms, but still…)
So for the longest time, I thought I didn’t like oyster mushrooms and I avoided them. Oh, the opportunities wasted! Fortunately, as I was browsing on Pinterest one day, I found this recipe for a vegan pulled BBQ sandwich using oyster mushrooms and I started looking at those piles of beautiful oyster mushrooms at the market with a lot more interest.
That recipe wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it got my brain into gear and I thought that instead of baking the mushrooms, I could stir fry the moisture out of them… and hence, this recipe was born. And let me tell you, these vegan oyster mushroom spicy fajitas are fantastic! The mushrooms are dense and “meaty” enough to hold their own as a fajita base, and the spices really make them tasty enough to eat alone! But a little sauce never hurts, so we’ll add some condiments when we serve them and you’ll see…vegan fajitas never got better than this!
Let’s Make Some Yummy Vegan Oyster Mushroom Spicy Fajitas
So, the first thing you need for this recipe is a nice bunch of fresh oyster mushrooms. You’ll rinse them off and gently dry them, then carefully pull them (along the ribs or gills, as they’re interchangeably called ) into fajita style strips… no need to be exact, but you’ll want to end up with about 4 cups of mushroom strips… they’re going to cook down as the moisture fries out of them. You’ll heat 3-4 tablespoons of your favorite cooking oil, in a large non-stick skillet. When the oil is hot, add your mushrooms and stir-fry, moving the mushrooms around so they all get dehydrated at about the same rate and so that they don’t stick to the pan.
After several minutes you’ll notice that they are beginning to shrink, so you’ll reduce the heat and continue, until the edges of the mushrooms are fairly moisture-free and start to get browned and a bit crispy around the edges. You don’t want to add your spices until this point because any earlier, and the spices will tend to burn. Since we’re not sizzling these mushrooms in the oven (well, you could, and I have, but this method is quicker and you have much more control over the moisture release in the mushrooms) you can benefit from a little browning.
Then you’ll reduce the heat and add your spices and continue to stir fry for a few more minutes… you don’t want to taste raw spices, but be careful that they don’t burn. You can add as much cayenne pepper as you like… I’ve mentioned before how my mouth hurts when food is really spicy, so I keep mine to just a little zing, but feel free to add more if that’s what makes you happy. 🙂
If you have access to an Indian market, do dry black cardamom pods or black cardamom powder if you can find it… it tastes nothing like green cardamom, which is considered a “sweet spice”… rather, black cardamom is kind of smoky flavored. If you use the pods, you add them to the oil and let them sizzle along with the mushrooms, then pull the pods out before serving. If you use the powder, you add it in and let it fry with the other spices. I like to use black cardamom on its own, or alongside of smoked paprika, (as in this recipe) because it adds a little variation of smoke flavor. However, this recipe will be excellent with only smoked paprika if that’s what you have on hand or can easily get.
You can add your sweetener of choice right at the last minute… just a pinch provides the rounded out flavor that gives some sausages their richness. In the end, after you’ve made the veggies, you’ll have a huge platter full of delicious roasted veggies and fajita “meat” like this:
While your fajita mushrooms are frying, you can prep the veggies. It’s difficult to say exactly how many veggies to prep… I used some of the ones pictured and I sliced enough to cover a baking sheet with veggies. Those get drizzled with oil and lightly salted and popped into the oven to bake at high heat until they are cooked and slightly charred around the edges.
So, your veggies are roasting and your fajita “meat” is ready. You can accompany this with a variety of sauces and condiments. If you are vegan, you can use vegan shredded cheese and vegan yogurt or sour cream, along with this amazing cilantro lime sauce for drizzling. (recipe below) You can, of course, always add guacamole, which I certainly would, but I can’t find good avocados here in the Republic of Georgia where we are; they do sell imported avocados here, just not the buttery black-skinned ones that I love, so I skipped that. I’m not complaining, though!
I recently saw oyster mushrooms advertised somewhere in the USA for about $7.00 for a small box (like a box of cherry tomatoes, ya know?) and I was shocked at the price. Here, at an outdoor market, I hand selected about a pound of fresh oyster mushrooms for less than one dollar! And I only used about 1/3 of for this recipe… So, nope, not complaining at all, just sayin’… serve up some guac if you have avos where you are, you fortunate soul!
For the yogurt sauce, I just roasted 2 small long (you can use one large red bell also) sweet red peppers, peeled, then blended them with the smallest bit of water to make a smooth paste, then added that to yogurt, along with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne and onion powder.
Serve the peppers and fajita mushrooms on a large platter, accompanied with your choice of tortilla or wrap.
These vegan oyster mushroom spicy fajitas are fantastic! If you’re on the fence about oyster mushrooms… take the plunge and try them – and as a side note, oyster mushrooms also happen to be very good for health! If you’re interested, you can read about that in my article about medicinal mushrooms for pain relief, which includes a section about the health benefits of the various types of culinary mushrooms near the end of the article:
Anyway, I hope you try this recipe and that you enjoy your fajitas! There are endless add-ins that you can include, but this recipe gives you the basics, plus a couple of tasty sauces to try.
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Yummy Vegan Oyster Mushroom Spicy Fajitas
For the Oyster Mushroom Fajita Strips:
- 4 cups shredded fresh oyster mushrooms
- 2-4 TBSP olive oil, or your favorite cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½-1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder to taste
- ½ teaspoon black cardamom powder (optional) or two large black cardamom pods
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt more to taste
- 1-2 pinches brown sugar or maple syrup to taste
For the Roasted Peppers:
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 1 small yellow bell pepper
- 1 medium white onion more or less according to preference
- 1 sprinkle salt
- 2-3 teaspoons oil for tossing before roasting
Cilantro Lime Sauce
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- < ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- < ¼ cup oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ ripe avocado, optional
Optional: ½-1 cup grated white cheddar, orange cheddar or cheese of your choice
Tortillas, serve warm
Yogurt Dipping Sauce
- 1½ cups Greek-style yogurt
- 1 medium roasted red pepper, peeled
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt to taste
For the Mushroom Fajita Strips:
- Gently wash mushrooms and pull apart along the gills into fajita style strips
- Add oil to a large non-stick frying pan and heat at medium-high. If using black cardamom pods, add these now and let fry for a moment, stirring, then add mushroom strips and stir fry to release moisture.
- Fry without covering, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. When moisture is gone and mushrooms begin to brown and crisp around the edges, lower heat a notch and add in spices, coating the mushroom strips.
For the Roasted Peppers and Onions:
- Slice the peppers into thin strips, removing seeds and inner stems. Slice the onions into thin strips. Place together in a large bowl and toss with oil and salt to coat.
- Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes at 400°F
- After 10 minutes, toss and continue roasting, 10-15 minutes more until softened and slightly charred around the edges
For the Cilantro Sauce
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If you need to add a bit of water to get it blending, add very sparingly, 1 tablespoon at a time… just enough to get it started. Add optional avocado and blend if desired.
For Yogurt Sauce:
- To roast red peppers, follow the instructions here: https://www.enchantedspicebox.com/cilantro-pesto-with-roasted-red-peppers/#recipe
- Be sure to remove the skin of the peppers before adding to the blender!
- Add pepper with a small bit of water to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add pepper paste to the yogurt with the remaining spices. Serve cold.