PDA

View Full Version : Question about shallots.


chique
05-19-2009, 08:41 PM
And just so we're clear, I'm talking about these things (http://www.bonappetit.com/images/tips_tools_ingredients/ingredients/ttar_shallot_v.jpg).

Grocery stores around here sell two versions. The first is a small mesh bag containing six or eight pearl-onion-sized shallots; the second is a small mesh bag containing one or two plum(ish)-sized shallots.

If a recipe calls for "One shallot, finely minced", is it talking about the little 'uns or the big 'uns?

I've always bought and used the larger version. I'm just wondering how many recipes I've "ruined" doing that.

Athena
05-19-2009, 09:05 PM
You haven't ruined any recipes.

The truth is, shallots come in a variety of sizes/shapes, as do a lot of other veggies. Cooking is not an exact science, therefore, when a recipe says "one shallot" or "one onion" or "one bell pepper", it's up to the cook to decide how much he/she wants to put in.

You won't ruin a recipe by putting in too much or too little shallot. You might eventually find that you like a certain amount. But really, I wouldn't worry too much about it, just use whatever's handy.

chique
05-19-2009, 09:15 PM
There's a reason I put the "" around ruined. :)

I like shallots and point and laugh at the fools who substitute onions "because they're the same thing", and I think I cook as you do and treat the given amounts of certain ingredients as mere suggestions. ;) I'm just wondering if there's a traditional- or standard-sized shallot.

Athena
05-19-2009, 09:36 PM
I'm just wondering if there's a traditional- or standard-sized shallot.

Hmm if there is, I'm not aware of it. I wonder if I have anything that might say....

Heh, I should have figured - "Cook's Illustrated" has guidelines on it. Here's what they say:

When a recipe calls for one shallot, what, exactly, is called for: one entire shallot or one section, or clove, from one shallot? We found little consensus about this question in the cookbooks we checked. Even in the test kitchen, different cooks held different opinions. After some debate, we agreed that the following argument made the most sense.

A shallot may consist of one, two, three, or even four irregularly sized cloves, unlike a head of garlic, whose cloves are many and fairly regular in size. In contrast, most shallots (whether they have one clove or four) are approximately the same size. For this reason, its more accurate to write recipes that use an entire shallot, not a single clove, as the equivalent of one shallot. Of course, for maximum accuracy, its best to measure the shallot when minced. In the test kitchen, we consider one medium shallot to equal 3 tablespoons minced.

Hilarity N. Suze
05-19-2009, 09:52 PM
I just made a recipe (Thai beef salad-hot!) that called for cup shallots, thinly sliced. That was easy! (I used a -cup sized shallot for the occasion)

carnivorousplant
05-20-2009, 08:15 AM
I just made a recipe (Thai beef salad-hot!)


Give!








:)

Ephemera
05-20-2009, 08:20 AM
I like shallots and point and laugh at the fools who substitute onions "because they're the same thing", and I think I cook as you do and treat the given amounts of certain ingredients as mere suggestions. ;) I'm just wondering if there's a traditional- or standard-sized shallot.

If I actually cooked, I'd be one of those being mocked. Can you explain the difference?

joyfool
05-20-2009, 08:21 AM
Ditto what Aesiron said. I always thought they were basically the same thing.

Athena
05-20-2009, 08:39 AM
A shallot is much smaller - a large shallot is maybe 1/3 the size of a small onion - and, more importantly, the taste is different. They are milder & sweeter than onions, so you can get away with not cooking it as long (or even eating it raw. I chop them fine and put them in vinegarette sometimes, for example.)

Some people say they're a bit garlicky. I'm not sure I agree with that or not.

Basically, in a pinch, you could substitute onion for shallot in a cooked recipe. I wouldn't do it if the recipe called for raw shallot, though.

BrandonR
05-20-2009, 09:04 AM
I've always heard shallots as something between an onion and garlic. Neither has the same exact taste as a shallot, and I would agree from my experiences.

If you're looking for a recipe that is amazing and really showcases shallots, try this one (http://projects.eveningedge.com/recipes/chicken-garlic-and-shallots/). I've never been able to screw it up and the chicken comes out fall-apart tender, the garlic and shallots come out soft and wonderful for mixing into mashed potatoes, and the oil turns garlicky and perfect for a dipping oil for bread. And you only need one pan (a cast iron dutch oven is preferable)!

Claire Beauchamp
05-20-2009, 10:10 AM
In addition to tasting different than onions, shallots have a different texture. They are often used in cooked dishes such as sauces where you want the "onion" to not be prominent visually/in the mouth. Finely minced shallot will break down to the point that they essentially disappear after significant cooking.

I took a cooking class recently where the same question came up ... "What constitutes '1 shallot?'" She said 1 Tablespoon. So ... I would use 1 to 3 as a guide, and use your own judgment within that range depending on the dish.

timgil
11-22-2012, 07:30 PM
It is always better to measure by weight over volume (cups, teaspoon, etc)

Go by this:
For shallots (chopped, sliced, whatever) but finished prepped product:

1/2 cup = 2 ounces

Scale up or down as needed.

:D

Chefguy
11-22-2012, 09:01 PM
Smaller shallots are usually milder than the large ones. I've had a large shallot make my eyes water when chopping it. They're great for perfuming oil and care should be used not to overcook them. They're a key ingredient in some risottos.

carnivorousplant
11-22-2012, 09:30 PM
Smaller shallots are usually milder than the large ones. I've had a large shallot make my eyes water when chopping it. They're great for perfuming oil and care should be used not to overcook them. They're a key ingredient in some risottos.

I've never had my eyes water.
A key ingredient in my potato soup, taken from vischy swa, however one spells it.

ZipperJJ
11-22-2012, 11:38 PM
How funny - this exact question came up in my kitchen today (the kitchen I was cooking in) and while my mom and I just decided to use "this many" shallots, she told me to research it later and my answer was "I'll ask my friend Athena."

Spooky! :)

guizot
11-23-2012, 12:16 AM
I've always heard shallots as something between an onion and garlic. Neither has the same exact taste as a shallot, and I would agree from my experiences.Yes, that's what they taste like. In general, Thai cooking will use shallots where others end to use onions--but it also will have garlic in addition to shallots.

I always buy the small ones, because then it's easier to get closer to the amount I want. As Athena says, the amounts in recipes are just a general idea, which you adjust to your personal taste over time.

I never count how many individual shallots when cooking. I just prepare them until I have the amount I want. That also goes for all the other "bulb-type" ingredients.

Athena
11-23-2012, 07:30 AM
*takes a bow and considers adding "Queen of Shallots" to her title*

Someday we'll live in a universe where a kitchen scale will be as essential to home cooking as volume-based measuring cups are, and all recipes will have measurements in grams, and these kinds of questions will not pop up because 500gr of Shallots is easy to understand.

Jadis
11-23-2012, 09:28 AM
Zombie chique. :(

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.