About Shallots

Shallots

Shallots are not baby onions but a separate member of the onion family. They have a delicate flavor, less intense than most onions and they also dissolve easily into liquids, which is why they are favored for sauces. Shallots grow in small, tight clusters so that when you break one open there may be two or three bunched together at the root.

Their size makes them convenient for a recipe where only a little onion is required. Use shallots when only a small amount of onion is needed or when only a fine onion flavor is required. Shallots are a pleasant, if maybe extravagant, alternative to onions, but where recipes specify shallots (especially sauce recipes), they should be used if possible.

History : Shallots are probably as ancient as onions. Roman commentators wrote eloquently about the excellence of shallots in sauces.

Varieties : Shallots are small slender onions with long necks and golden, copper-colored skins. There are a number of varieties, although there is unlikely to be a choice in the supermarkets. In any case, differences are more in size and color of skin than in flavor.

Buying and Storing : Like onions, shallots should be firmed without any green shoots. They will keep well for several months in a cool dry place.

Preparing and Cooking : Skin shallots in the same way as onions, i.e. top and tail them and then peel off the outer skin. Pull apart the bulbs. Slice them carefully and thinly using a sharp knife - shallots are so small, it is easy to slip and cut yourself. When cooking them whole, fry over a very gentle heat without browning too much.

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