what are shallots?
Shallots have a brownish thin skin, and somewhat resemble garlic in shape. They’re about the same size, and bulbous, with different sections connected at the base. Recipes will frequently specify X number of shallots, which personally, I’ve always found a little confusing, given that shallots, like garlic, tend to come bunched; but unlike with garlic, each distinct section is generally considered a single shallot. When you slice up a shallot, however, you’ll find it has a purplish tinge and looks more like miniature red onion. The flavor of the shallot is frequently described as a cross between sweet onion and garlic – it’s quite distinctive, at any rate, smooth and delicate (especially when cooked). Shallots are lovely minced up finely for a vinaigrette, and are also frequently used in upscale French cooking, as well and Thai and Indonesian cuisines.
Like regular old onions, shallots should be peeled (score with a sharp paring knife to loosen the skin) and the root ends discarded (or better yet, saved for stock).