food fungi

Chicken of the woods: the tender, firm, forgiving mushroom that makes amazing fried chicken

Harvest chicken of the woods when the fresh fruits have tender texture and bright colours. Aging mushrooms should be avoided. (Photo by Trent Maynard)

When the wild blueberries and black huckleberries ripen in the summery subalpine, it’s time to go hunting for chicken of the woods.

The fruiting bodies of this delicious polypore (also known as chicken of the forest, sulphur polypore and sulphur shelf mushrooms) are bright orange and yellow when fresh.

In BC and the Pacific Northwest, August and September are a good bet to find a local subspecies that grows on dead or dying conifers (Laetiporus conifericola), like the magnificent old-growth hemlock featured in the video below.

Come along as we explore an ancient mountaintop forest in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) territories on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, in search of a nutritious dinner.

Chicken of the woods is a hearty and versatile mushroom, high in protein content and with firm, satisfying texture.

It is the ultimate secret ingredient to making the best vegan fried chicken. The texture and firm plumpness will transform your view of mushrooms forever.

Chicken of the woods should be very well cooked before consuming. Mushrooms can be pre-cooked (boiled or baked) before deep-frying without losing the firm texture.

They freeze well (raw or pre-cooked), making them a delicious, convenient, and forgiving mushroom, as joyous as their bright colours.

Fresh chicken of the woods sizzles in a pot of frying oil (Photo by Trent Maynard)

CAUTION: Be careful when identifying wild mushrooms. Ask an expert for help. If eating chicken of the woods (or any wild mushroom) for the first time, start with one small bite. Wait 24 hours before eating more, to test for food sensitivities and allergies.

Our fried chicken of the woods was sensual, satisfying and without any bad reactions. We hope you can experience the same delight, and if you do let us know!

Learn more about the Dakota Bear Sanctuary

Fried chicken of the woods is a remarkably satisfying meat-free meal. Use this hearty, high-protein mushroom as a substitute in traditional fried chicken recipes. (Photo by Trent Maynard)