Shallots might look like mini onions, but they have a distinct voice of their own and a delicate sweet flavour which sings when cooked.
What are Shallots?
These smaller and sweeter onion alternatives hail from the allium family, the same family as white, red, and yellow onions as well as leeks, scallions, and garlic.
They grow in clusters at the leaf base, much like scallions, and consist of a bulb made up of finer layers and covered with a dry papery skin. One of their main differentiating factors to other onions is that they contain less water.
There are different varieties of shallots including, Banana shallots which are the largest variety and hence the easiest to handle. They have tan-coloured skin and are slightly milder than other types. And the colourful pink shallots, defined by their pink skin and crisp texture with a pungent flavour.
Shallots vs Onions
While it might be tempting to substitute shallots for onions or vice versa, there are some differences to take into account and a small flavour trade-off to make. This neat clip points out the main differences:
How to Cut Shallots
If you know how to cut an onion, learning how to cut shallots is not much different, they just take more nimble knife work due to their size.
How to Cook Shallots
Now you know how to cut your shallots it's time to have fun discovering these delicate and sweet onions in cooking, from crispy fried to pickled and caramelised.
Fried Shallots and Crispy Shallots
For delicious crispy, salty and sweet shallots try following the instruction in this video:
When you want pickle in a hurry try this cooked shallot pickle technique with shallots, sugar, red wine vinegar and a sachet of fresh herbs and make a quick pickle salad.
Add batches of sliced shallots to a large skillet and cook in melted butter over a medium-low heat and stir occasionally for 7 to 10 minutes. When golden brown transfer the fried or caramelized shallots to a plate lined with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper to taste.