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Oct 30, 2009 03:31 PM

What's a shallot?

This occurs for me kind of a dumb, random oddball question. When I peel a shallot, sometimes there is one bulb; sometimes two. If there are two do you count the two bulbs as a SINGLE shallot or is that TWO shallots?

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  1. Do you mean because of what a recipe might say about quantity?

    If so, then if you had peeled it surely you had intended to use that amount of shallot.

    1. One shallot - but sizes vary as much as that of onions. If dealing with a recipe, I'd consider a shallot to mean one the size of a small egg or large prune - as in the shallots sold in a small box (not a good choice since they can be rather old and dried out). Any recipe where the exact amount was extremely important should include a measurement in weight or spoon/cup. My motto with the onion family is that too much is never enough.

      8 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        Keep in mind that in many Louisiana recipies, "shallot" means green onion even though real shallots are grown in the area. Don't ask me ....I don;t know

        1. re: hazelhurst

          Ah, that reminds me of the time my father sent me to the store to buy "dry onions". I assumed he meant dessicated onions and that's what I bought.

          He was really irritated when I showed him what I'd purchased, claiming that EVERYBODY knows that "regular" onions are also called "dry onions" to distinguish them from green onions. I said that was baloney and I'd always just called them "onions". We went back and forth for days about this. Since that time I've never heard the term "dry onion".

          1. re: oakjoan

            That's a new one on me...

            Used to be that in the NE green onions were also called "ripes" as in "rare ripes"

            1. re: hazelhurst

              It is better to mention the quantityof shallots in weight than the numbers.Anyway it is a harmless ingredient and unless the quantity exceeds a lot it wont cause any issue.It is also supposed to be very healthy and improves the taste a lot.One of my favourite Shallot Recipe is Ulli Thoran.

              1. re: kannan_g_india

                Harmless perhaps. All I know is I had to sweat a half pound of thinly sliced shallots for a t'giving recipe, and my apartment (without good ventilation) reeked of fried shallots for several days. I had to make a curry to mask the smell of shallots. (Then the curry smell hung around for 3 days.)

                1. re: MartinDC

                  She swallowed a spider to catch the fly...

                  1. re: MartinDC

                    try lightly toasting garlic in olive oil love the smell. I wish they sold it as an air freshener

          2. Thanks for asking this, chicgail - I've often wondered myself! And usually I just go with the measured quantity that (hopefully!) the recipe calls for, i.e., "2 shallots, about 3/4 cup chopped".

            2 Replies
            1. re: LindaWhit

              You're right, of course. The problem is that dry measure of something that can be cut to varying sizes -- well, varies. The only accurate measure by volume requires one to use water displacement and that just wouldn't work well with something like chopped onions. And most recipes designed for home cooks are not measured by weight.

              It is a good thing that most recipes using shallots are pretty forgiving give or take a little.

              1. re: chicgail

                <<And most recipes designed for home cooks are not measured by weight.>>

                In my (Western) experience they are just about everywhere - except North America