Sometimes, you can find shallots alongside some garlic and onion. They are a rare commodity, and you can barely find them in most grocery stores. If you do happen to find one, you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity. Now, you might think that it looks like an onion and so must therefore taste like an onion. Perhaps you might have passed by a shallot thinking it’s just another type of onion! Shallots are similar but different from onions in terms of taste and shape. So, what does shallots taste like?
Shallots are very similar to onions. They are so similar that one can be forgiven for misidentifying a shallot for an onion. At the surface, shallots have skin just like an onion. Even the interior is very identical to an onion. Why? Because they belong in the same onion family! Shallots look small, and so one might think they are young onions. They are technically in the onion family, but not the same.
What Does A Shallot Taste Like?
Not many are familiar with shallots. But in the culinary industry, they are one of the favorites alongside its cousins. Its cousins are onions, yellow, onions, and leeks.
What makes the shallots special if there are other onion alternatives? It is well known that onions have a very sharp smell and taste. While we have spices to done down the taste a little, wouldn’t you want something a bit milder? Something that still has the uncanny onion taste, but a bit more permissible, you could say.
Well, there is your answer, the shallot. Shallots are much milder and more delicate than the onion. It also has a bit of sweetness to it. Since it is a lot more forgiving than the onion, you can even eat it raw! Expect it to still be strong, but not as strong as a raw onion.
One of the major differences between the onion and shallot, besides the taste, is how easy it breaks down. Onions are hard to tenderize and a bit strong too. On the other hand, shallots are easy to tenderize, literally melting in your mouth.
If you think that the onion on your dish is too sharp, then use shallot instead. You can replace onions with shallots in any recipe.
How To Identify A Shallot
The main difference between a shallot and an onion is the shape. Shallots are a lot smaller, and they grow differently. It resembles an oblong. They form in large clusters like garlic, unlike onions which grow individually.
There are three variants of shallots; French Gray Shallot, Jersey Shallot, and Ehalion. Of the three variants, the highly sought out shallot is the French Gray Shallot.
French Gray Shallot—named after its iconic greyish color—is thought of as the only ‘true’ shallot by purists. The skin may look unappealing, but once opened, it has a delicately purple-pink flesh. The skin is not dark, just the right gradient. Just as the color is appealing, so is the taste. A lot more refined and flavorful. It is highly sought out by chefs and home cooks alike.
Next, we have the Jersey Shallot—the most common shallot you can find. It has orange or pinkish reddish skin to it, and it is named after Jersey isle. The Jersey shallot is thought of as the ‘fake’ shallot. It is a great alternative to the French Gray Shallot if you don’t have one, although not as great. Perhaps that’s why it got its infamous nickname.
Lastly, we have the Echalion—also referred to as “banana” shallot. If you think that a shallot is too mild and the onion is too strong, then this is it. The Echalion is a crossbreed between the shallot and onion, taking the best qualities of both variants. It will give you the size of an onion, but as mid as shallot. A perfect balance, if that’s what you are looking for.
That’s Great, But How Do I Find A Good Shallot?
Shallots are available all year round, great condiment to whatever dish no matter the season. When picking shallots, think of picking onions. The shallot should be firm when you grasp it and heavy for its size when picked up. You should avoid it when it’s light and dry, also avoid if there are soft spots. If there are signs of sprouting, avoid them also. Lastly, the smaller it is, the younger it is, which means milder. If it’s large, the taste would be similar to its cousin onions.
How To Store Your Shallots?
A lot of people find it preferable to buy shallots according to their needs. But what if you have an overabundance? Just like the regular onion, you can also store the shallot in the same way. Find a place that is dry, cool, and has plenty of air circulation. In this kind of environment, you can store them for as long as two months. Avoid a humid spot, as it will hasten the spoilage.
Next, store them in a metal mesh rack. If ever they sprout, they are still viable, although it has lost its mild flavor. They would taste just like a regular onion. Likewise, if it sprouted, you can use its leaves as an alternative to leeks.
You can choose to freeze shallots, but once defrosted, they turn soft. Perfect for those looking to sautee some shallots. You can freeze them for up to three months.
Shallots are milder, a better version of onions that are a pleasant alternative if you happen to dislike the pungent taste and the sharpness of an onion. Even if raw, they are a great addition to salad dressings, a great addition to spice up the salad without oversaturating with onion flavor. Likewise, use their leaves to give your food an aroma, just like you would use leeks for it. With the shallots, there is no way you can go wrong with it.
Shallots can be used interchangeably with onion. So why not try out some of our vegetable cuisines? Check out Simple Recipes For Vegetables That You Should Try.
Do you know what else goes together with an onion? Tomatoes! Check out our article Creative Ways On How To Eat Tomatoes – Raw and Cooked!