In a new series called ‘Ingredient Spotlight’, I will highlight a different ingredient each week and provide recipe suggestions as well. For my first post in the series, I thought I would cover shallots. Growing up I did not like onions at all. In fact, I didn’t start liking onions until I was about 30. Shallots were my gateway to onions. Their milder and slightly sweeter flavor really “spoke” to my taste buds.
**All information presented below is primarily sourced from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats: The Early Years” and “The World Encyclopedia of Cooking Ingredients”.**
Shallots are a sub-species of the onion. They, along with onions, garlic, leeks, and chives, are part of the lily family and grown from bulbs rather than seeds. Shallots have a low water content. This allows them to be stored in a cool, dry place for months at a time prior to use. However, it also means that when not watched, they can burn and toughen easily when fried. When purchasing shallots, they should be firm and without any green shoots.
There are several varieties of shallots. The ones pictured above are known as Pink Shallots, or Echalote Grise. These have a reddish skin and pink-tinged flesh. They have a crisp texture and have a more pungent (though not harsh) flavor.
‘Brown’, ‘English’ or ‘Dutch’ Shallots (all three names work — depending on what part of the world you are in) are small and tan-skinned. They are a really good all-purpose shallot and separate into subsidiary bulbs when peeled.
Banana Shallots are named from the elongated shape. Their skin is tan and they have a milder flavor than other shallots. They are also the largest variety.
Asian/Thai Red Shallots are used extensively in many South-East Asian countries. They are small, round red bulb. Their flavor is much stronger than other shallot varieties.
Below are some great dishes that include shallots. Simply click on the image to be taken to recipe!