The Happy Home Cook: Vegan Calamari

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Vegan Calamari (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Vegan Calamari (Photo by Astig Vegan)

I thought vegan Calamari would be perfect to eat at a game night -the NBA Finals Game 7 to be exact. I was ready with my ingredients and ready to make vegan Calamari for my family.  But time flew by especially because the game was on the same day as Father’s Day and we took our dad out to lunch. Before I knew it, I had only few minutes left to come over to my sister’s place and join everyone watching the game. Good thing I had leftover from my catering gig and had extra Pancit Palabok and Laing to bring with me. I quickly made more Pancit filling, packed everything, and rushed to my sister’s place. I wasn’t able to make vegan Calamari after all. I missed making it and I missed the first two quarters of the game! I arrived during half-time, learning that it was a close fight.

During the fourth quarter, my team, the Golden State Warriors, was losing and it was getting clear that the Cavaliers will be the NBA champions this year. The game ended on a somber note for me and my family. I realized, my vegan calamari wasn’t meant to be enjoyed that night anyway. Few days later, I finally made vegan Calamari and my family thoroughly enjoyed every bite. The game may not have been what I had hoped for but at least it gave me an idea that vegan Calamari could be a crowd pleaser. Maybe I’ll serve it at the next NBA finals where I’m sure the Golden State Warriors will reclaim its throne!

Calamari has always been a family favorite. In the Philippines, we call it, “Calamares” and we serve it with spiced vinegar instead of marinara sauce (personally, I prefer spiced coconut vinegar over spiced cane vinegar).Calamares is usually enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or beer match -also known as pulutan.  But then again, you could eat it with rice and call it an entrée!

This vegan Calamari recipe is my second, simpler version. The first one with lettuce wraps could seem intimidating because of the fixings, so this time I stuck with just the vegan Calamari itself. I also used sweet potato flour instead of glutinous rice flour. I didn’t use any binder like corn starch but the batter seemed to stick pretty well without it.

Vegan Calamari

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


  • vegetable oil for deep frying

  • 11 ounces or 1 large bowl of king trumpet mushroom

  • ½ cup flour of choice (I used sweet potato flour available at Asian grocery stores)

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs (or corn meal)

  • dash of garlic salt

  • few pinches of chili pepper (or Japanese or Korean chili pepper or Old Bay seasoning) (optional)

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)

  • few pinches of sea salt

  • lemon wedges for serving (optional)

  • chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

  • spiced coconut vinegar for dipping (optional)


1. Pour enough oil into a deep frying pan or pot until you have about 2 inches of oil. Heat over high heat. If you have a frying thermometer, aim for 365 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't, test a small amount of mushroom and see if it bubbles right away without boiling. If it does, it's ready. If the oil is starting to smoke before putting the mushroom, your oil has become too hot. Lower heat until smoke disappears.

2. Using your hands or a vegetable peeler, strip the mushroom into thin layers.

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

3. If you want to do the traditional round shape, thinly slice the mushroom into rounds and cut out the core.

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

4. In batches, dunk the mushroom in milk then coat in flour mixture.

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

5. Fry in oil for 3 minutes. Repeat steps for the rest of the batch. Make sure you don't overcrowd the pan or pot when frying.

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

(Photo by Astig Vegan)

6. Place calamari on paper towels to drain excess oil.

7. Sprinkle sea salt all over to release more of the flavors.

8. Serve immediately. Serve with lemon wedges, parsley, and spiced vinegar (optional).


You could skip the chili pepper or seafood seasoning but I highly recommend using one. It may make the recipe complicated but it will have a closer flavor to squid calamari than an obvious mushroom calamari (especially handy when serving to omnivore family and friends).

You could find Japanese and Korean chili pepper at Asian grocery stores or online.

You could find Old Bay seasoning at most supermarkets or online. I prefer Old Bay seasoning but you could use other kinds of seafood seasoning (just double check the ingredients list to make sure it's vegan).

To make the American calamari version, spritz lemon over fried calamari and serve with marinara or tomato sauce on the side.

If serving to kids, serve with vegan mayo instead of vinegar or tomato sauce.

If you rather watch how the recipe unfolds, here’s a YouTube version:

I’ll have to wait for the next basketball season to catch the Golden State Warriors fight for the championship title again. Hopefully they’ll win next year. I will be ready with a vegan Calamari in hand. For now, I’ll enjoy my vegan Calamari or Calamares with family and friends, with or without the lettuce wraps. I hope you do the same. Kain na, let’s eat!

*If you end up making the recipe and posting it on social media, feel free to tag me at #astigvegan. Your feedback is always important to me! And for those who have, thank you so much! My instagram account is filled with your lovely recreations! Happy cooking and happy posting!

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