Saturday, January 21, 2006

WHB # 16 - Shallots

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The shallot is a member of the lily family, along with onions, garlic, and leeks. Shallots come in different sizes and shapes. In Asia, shallots are small and round, and are red in color. In France, the pear-shaped, reddish-brown ones like I show above are more common. In the Netherlands and Denmark, shallots are round, red-brown and yellow. Other colors are gray and white.

Shallots are native to the Mediterranean, and their botanical name is Allium ascalonicum, derived from Ascalon, a town in South Palestine, where they are thought to have originated. They are thought to have come to the United States by the explorer De Soto during his Louisiana explorations. In some areas, shallots are incorrectly called scallions. The reason for this is that early French settlers couldn’t find their favored shallots, and had to subsitute green onions. Scallions are generally the tops of immature onions and leeks.

Once you peel a shallot, it divides into cloves like garlic, though there are usually only two or three. Larger shallots may have up to six cloves. Many cooks believe that shallots have a flavor somewhere between onion and garlic, and prefer it for many dishes because it doesn’t have a pungent odor and it caramelizes well.

I used a shallot today in my Poppy Seed Dressing, and find them to be a necessary ingredient when I make Chicken Marsala.

This is for Weekend Herb Blogging on Kalyn’s Kitchen. Check out her site!


Kalyn said...

I just started buying shallots when they started selling them at my Costco. I didn't know there were different colors. Very interesting.

Ruth said...

I love shallots. Although up here in Canada there's sometimes confusion because green onions are also called shallots.

Great photo