How to Use Shallots
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Joann
Posted on: March 15, 2002

How do you know when to use shallots? I watch tv food network, but by the time I go to the store to buy the shallots, I forget what the recipes were or where to use them. I’ll put this in print to remember.

The shallot is one of several herbs that belong to the Alliums, otherwise known as the onions. Besides shallot, other herbal onions are the indepensible garlic and chives, as well as welsh onion, egyptian onion, leeks, and the many varieties of plain onion, Allium cepa. A wonderful homage to the many kinds of onions is "The Onion Book" by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger (Interweave, 1996). It has recipes and how-to information for growing and using shallots.

In French cuisine, the shallot reigns supreme in sauces, either cooked, softened in a pan (but not browned), or raw. For example, mignonette sauce for oysters is made with white wine, white wine vinegar, diced shallots and cracked black pepper. Or shallots can be poached in red wine to go with roast or grilled beef, or diced raw in vinaigrettes.

Shallots are also important in the rich cuisines of Southeast Asia. As Dille and Belsinger write in their book, they are "wonderful with cooked vegetables, omelets, baked, grilled, or broiled fish, and chicken braises and curries." Thai and Cambodian salads feature raw shallots, and shallots are frequently served fried to a rich golden brown as a garnish.

Dille and Belsinger include a recipe for Oven-Roasted Shallots which they say add "wonderful flavour to soups, stews, sauces, and vinaigrettes, and they are delicious served as an accompaniment to rustic meals. They taste good with practically everything simple: plain vegetables, roasts, grills." And they are so easy to make!

Ingredient:

12 medium to large red or yellow shallots, 12 ounces or 1 pound (340 to 450 g)

Directions:

"Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Place the shallots on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast them for 25 to 30 minutes, until soft, turning them halfway through the baking time.

"When the shallots are cool enough to handle, cut off the root ends. You can serve the whole shallots as a garnish to an informal dinner plate. To chop or mince the shallots, first squeeze them from their skins; usually you will lose the outer layer of flesh along with the skin. Chop or mince the shallots and use them as desired."

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