Funghi Fritto

An overhead view of a pile of fried mushrooms on a wood board, a  glass of white wine beside it

A totally luxe apéro snack. 

by Erin Henderson

I wish I could tell you this recipe is mine.

It’s so delicious, and so straightforward, it’s genius. But I didn’t come up with it.

Pino Luongo did.

The Italian-born, New York City chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author wrote about it in his 2003 beautifully photographed book, La Mia Cucina Toscana: A Tuscan Cooks in America.

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I picked up this stunning collection of recipes probably 15 years ago from a bargain book bin for $5, of all prices. I’m sure highly insulting to Pino, but a fabulous find for me. His recipes are simple, paired down, completely manageable for cooks of all confidences, and deeply delicious.

For years, I’ve been making these fried mushrooms when I want to impress with a fancy snack at apéro. They never let me down.

What I love about this recipe is that the batter is so light, it’s nearly imperceptible to the eye. When biting into a freshly fried, hot mushroom, the delicate batter offers a gossamer crunch, revealing a plump, meaty mushroom underneath. They’re exquisite.

Pino recommends a Super Tuscan, but I much prefer a cold glass of bubbly with these little snacks.

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close up of a fried mushroom, a wedge of lemon and fresh thyme sprigs beside it
Funghi Fritto

This batter can also be used for artichokes in the spring, and zucchini or bell peppers in the summer. I serve these with my easy aioli for dipping.

Makes: 1 lb of mushrooms (generally enough for four people as a starter before dinner or as part of a cocktail menu)
Chef level: moderate

Ingredients:
  • 400g mixed exotic sliced mushrooms (I like king and oyster best)
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • ¾ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • ½ cup sparkling water
  • 1/3 cup light lager
  • Handful fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying
How to Make It: 
  1. Set the oven to 200°F
  2. Gently warm 3-4 inches of oil in a large, deep pot over med-low heat until it reaches 330°F (see kitchen tips, below)
  3. Stir together the flour, wine, beer, sparkling water, thyme, and salt and pepper.
  4. When the oil is ready, dip the mushroom slices in the batter, covering well and carefully lay them in the hot oil.
  5. Allow them to fry for about 2 minutes, then turn them over and fry for another 2 minutes until slightly golden and crispy.
  6. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, placing on a wire rack with paper towel set underneath to drain. Sprinkle with salt
  7. Transfer to the warm oven on a tray to keep warm until serving – ideally not more than a few minutes.
Wine Pairing

As I mentioned above, I like cold bubbly with fried foods, and this is not exception. For a light and airy vibe a fruity, yet dry, Prosecco hits the spot, and for a more serious pairing, opt for a Blancs de Blanc that has both the earthy flavours of the mushrooms but the lemony verve to bring lift to the fried batter.

Kitchen Tips for Success
  • Our lawyer wants you to know oil gets really hot and can be super dangerous. Use a deep pot for frying to avoid any risk of boiling over, and make sure to gently warm the oil – do not crank the heat to high hoping to speed things along. That will not end well.
  • A candy thermometer is a good idea to monitor the heat. If you don’t have one, you will see the oil start to shimmer and a drop of water will sizzle immediately.
  • The oil will drop in heat once the food is added, sometimes as much as 50-70°F. To get the mushrooms crispy, don’t over crowd the pot, cook in batches if necessary and keep the cooked batches warm in the oven until serving. Wait until the oil has returned to the proper heat before adding more mushrooms.
  • Rice flour is heavier and tends to fall to the bottom of the batter; before dipping in the mushrooms give the batter a good stir to ensure it’s incorporated.

Hear From Real People!

I wanted to thank you again for last night. Everyone had a great time, and I received a lot of compliments, on your behalf. You struck a great balance between being informational and entertaining. 10 out of 10.
The event was a huge success! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the group was quite engaged. The wine was also delicious! Thank you so much! I hope we can work together on another event in the future!
The Wine Sisters are professional and flexible to attend to client needs. They’re able to provide 'one stop shop for events.
Thank you very much for your services. Everyone had a fantastic time and loved everything! Thank you again for a successful event and making me look oh so good.
Our guests had a great evening and Erin made sure that everyone (even non-drinkers) enjoyed themselves! Thanks for making the bridal shower so memorable!
Everything was perfect and very personalized! We still talk about experience and how nice it was. Definitely memories our family will treasure forever.
I had the pleasure of attending the Oceania Cruise event where you conducted a wine pairing. I have to say that your wine and food pairing made a typically ho hum travel information night, spectacular! I have never done a wine pairing. I was amazed at how food interacted with the wines.
I’m really pleased with how the event went. Everyone feels really happy with your incredible hosting skills and experience. We all DEFINITELY want to use The Wine Sisters again! Thank you so much!!
[They] quickly engaged our group with our wine themed engagement party. Guests were lined up all evening for the experience. [They] very willing to involve guests in tasting discussion. We are all a little more wine savvy - thank you The Wine Sisters
Everybody had a ton of fun and we very much see this structure as a template we can use with clients and friends in the future.

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