A member of the onion family, the shallot actually tastes like onion and garlic had a sweet, mild-flavored baby. Often confused with scallions, shallots are quite different. The shallot is an oblong-shaped bulb with copper-colored papery skin. Underneath you will find purple-tinted flesh divided into garlic-like cloves, which is ideal when a recipe calls for just a small amount of onion or shallot--you can pull away one clove and keep the rest for a later use.
Featured in French cooking, the shallot can get the reputation of being a fancy aromatic but it is readily available, easy to use and delicious in a variety of recipes.
Shallot Cooking Tips
- To prepare for cooking, cut the ends off of the shallot and peel away the skin. Then separate the cloves and chop finely, more finely than you would an onion.
- Unlike onions, shallots are delicious raw and work well in salads and vinaigrettes.
- Shallots work particularly well in dishes using white wine, butter and cream (think French cooking).
- Although shallots caramelize like onions, it is important to saute´ them gently. Browning over high heat is likely to turn them bitter, much like garlic.
- When caramelized properly, shallots will result in a sweet, candy-like treat.
- Roast shallots in their skins until soft. Then peel, puree and use as a flavoring for soups or sauces.
- Top mashed potatoes, green beans and even steak with lightly fried, crispy shallots.
- Shallots can also be pickled.
- Shallots do not cause bad breath like garlic or onions and are more easily digestible.
- Onions and scallions may be substituted for shallots, but expect a stronger onion flavor. Leeks will have a more similar taste.
- Refrigeration is not recommended for shallots as cold temperatures tend to encourage sprouting.
Shallot Measurements and Substitutions
- 3 to 4 shallots may be substituted for 1 small onion.
- 4 medium shallots = 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
- 8 to 9 shallots = 1 pound
- 1 shallot = 2 to 3 scallions