Monday, 4 May 2020

Shallot of confusion

Crispy fried shallots draining on paper towel

You can buy the commercial option ready-fried, but why not make it a lockdown afternoon meditative experience? I know its not for all of you but for those whowant to,get into the zone, with nowhere to be but peeling  finely slicing and frying some shallots.The benefits of that session will be a hundredfold, and your store cupboard will forever thank you.
  Let’s be clear: a shallot is not an onion. You could be forgiven for thinking they are the same, and substituting them for onions in a recipe, but very few recipes will specify shallots for this reason, it’s so much more convenient just to say “onion”.
Shallots have a completely different flavour profile. Shallots are yin to the onion’s yang.
When cooking, shallots excrete a lot less moisture than onions, which makes them a better choice to fry until crisp.
Store-bought fried shallots are often rancid, and fried using dubious sources including palm oil. Making it yourself, you can use a much better quality oil. My favourite choice is  peanut oil, which has a fantastically high heating point and great health benefits too. 
Fried shallots are incredibly versatile. You can use them as a garnishing flourish on anything you like, to finish a dish. Pasta, noodles, rice, soups, vegetables, meat … my favourite is scattering them on top of a grilled steak or on a rich unctuous stew.
Crispy Fried Shallots
6 shallots

500ml sunflower or nut oil
Flor de sal to season

You don’t need to halve them before you slice, as once they fry up they will shrink.
On the highest element, heat the oil in a wok or frying pan for about five minutes. Gently nudge the shallots into the oil and watch it bubble away. Turn down the heat to low-medium. Resist the urge to push it around for approximately five minutes.
Then get at it using a wooden paddle or spatula and stir the shallots around the pan constantly. Stand by the stove, focus on your breathing and inhale the delightful allium aroma. If you don’t want your entire house to smell like shallots, I highly advise you to turn on the hood to the highest extraction and open all your windows.
Once the shallots start to turn a golden brown, take them off the heat and drain into a steel mesh colander, lined with a few paper towels. Have a stainless steel bowl underneath the colander to catch all the oil. Cool the shallots down, then toss a teaspoon of salt into them. Stored in an airtight container, you can keep them refrigerated for up to six months.
Keep the oil separately in another jar and use it for cooking onion based dishes or as a finishing oil for absolutely anything and everything. These will become your favourite pantry staples. They are for me.

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