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How many people really use shallots? I generally don't.

I realize that if a recipe calls for shallots, it isn't calling for much but I can't see paying $3-4 per pound for a small, mild onion. You can get onions for $1 per pound or so.

I usually just use a little red onion. I have even seen recipes say you can use red onions instead of shallots.

By the way, before somebody brings it up, there was a thread on shallots vs onions a couple of years ago. here it is: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4404...

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  1. I do. :)

    I love the smoothness they get. They're pleasant in stir fries and etouffee. Raw potato pancakes!

    Maybe it's your location on planet earth. Here, the produce stand has big bin of shallots next to the onion and garlic bins. It's more costly than onions (1.67 vs .90) but not much. The farmer's markets usually have some nice shallots too. I remember cooking for my coworkers when I traveled with carnival and being pretty shocked at how much crawfish, bell peppers, and shallots cost around Chicago.

    1. I do sometimes if I have them at home but mostly I use yellow or red onions

      1 Reply
      1. re: L987

        I have rarely used the shallots in cooking. I believe they have a different taste. I substitute red onion or yellow onion,. Also used vidalia onion.

      2. They are invaluable for pan sauces, where the delicate flavor won't take over the sauce. For everything else, I just sub in whatever onion I have on hand.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RealMenJulienne

          Agreed, and also with MMRuth re: salad dressings. They're lighter in flavor and don't overwhelm what you're using them in. I can usually buy them loose in my local supermarkets, so I don't pay a fortune for them - I buy what I need. But they also keep for quite some time in a bin in my stairwell to the basement...in fact, they seem to keep better than regular onions.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Double agree. I used to HATE onions growing up, even cooking with them. Shallots brought me back, and i still use them for salads, salad dressings, and pan sauces too. i use them more than red or yellow onions, but about the same as i use garlic. i like sweet onions (maui or some other) better than reds or yellows. And shallots at my neighborhood latino stores are cheap, i can't remember exact price either, but cheap. but even if they weren't cheap, they taste better to me, so I'd use them over yellow or red onions.

        2. I almost always use them rather than onion or garlic. The flavor is so much mellower while retaining the flavor, not sharp like their fellow alliums. And they don't cost anywhere near $3-4 lb, you should look for an ethnic type grocery for your produce shopping.
          I'll have to look at the exact price next time, I think around $1 or $1.50, but I know I get 5 or 6 big ones every week for a negliable cost.

          1. I don't use them as much as onion for sure but I always have some on hand (and they keep forever on my counter! amazing!)...for certain recipes, they do make a difference! Aren't there a few Thai or Indian recipes that call for crispy-fried shallot slices as garnish??? ooooh, they are delightful! I can usually find them only 2 bulbs to a box at Publix and it's rare that I find them loose.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Val

              If you have access to an Asian market, you will find jars of crispy-fried shallots (red onion and garlic, too) for very short money.

              1. re: greygarious

                Thanks for the tip Grey...I swear I find new and interesting products every single time I go to our Asian store here, it never fails.

            2. I also use them frequently - I particularly like them in salad dressings, and also in various sauces - Bercy - where I think onions which actually overwhelm the rest of the flavours.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MMRuth

                I agree about the salad dressing Ruth, but substitute white valdalia onions for cooking.

              2. i do, in place of onions. also use them whole in stews or cuts that required long slow cooking. otherwise red onions in salads.

                1. I use shallots when recipes call for them. I can't remember the cost per pound here but I only buy 6 or so at a time never a full pound. I don't susbstitute other types of onions for shallots though I always have a supply of white, red and Spanish onions in the pantry. Also, Vidalias in season are a must for us.

                  1. I rarely used shallots except for special situations because, like Hank, the price of them in the stores around here is outrageous. $4 for a tiny net bag of them. Not even a pound. The farmers around here don't seem to grow them although they do grow garlic. But I love the flavor and started using them more, wincing every time I bought them. So I tried growing them this year and they're easy! Really easy! I put a bunch of them around the edges of the garden beds and tried some in pots and they grew like crazy! All were successful. So now I have enough shallots to see me through to next year for the initial price of two of the little bags the grocery store sells. Even if you don't have gardening space the little buggers thrive in pots and a 10" pot planted with 6 shallots yielded about 30 shallots. There's lots of different varieties with different flavors so you can plant a mix, decide which ones you like and save shallots from those to plant next year.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: morwen

                      Do you put in the end cutting, or a whole shallot? I wanted to do this with leeks too, and I think you can just put the bottom in?

                      1. re: coll

                        Store bought onions, potatoes, and garlic are, more often than not, treated with a chemical so they won't sprout. If you're buying them at a farmers market from the person who grew them ask if they've been treated. Untreated shallots you would be able to plant and grow. I ordered mine from a nursery because I wanted to know what varieties I was growing for future reference. Check in seed catalogs. A lot of the nurseries are getting ready to ship them out soon and they often run out of the more desirable varieties. Many of them only ship shallot bulbs in the fall. I've never grown leeks except from seed so I can't answer that question.

                        Break the shallot bulb apart and plant the whole shallot, not deep, they just have to be barely under the soil.

                        There's an episode of Bourdain in Spain where he attends this festival where they eat roasted and steamed onions that have been grown from the root cuttings only that were planted in the fall. I so want to try this. But then I get hungry watching most of his shows.

                        1. re: coll

                          I buy them by the bag, then farm them out in the dirt. I don't cut a thing or care which way I put them in there. Make sure you have good soil and potting additive too like SuPer Soil and give them good amounts of water and at first a joust of fish emolsion and vitamin b over them and off you go. they come up every year too, but some don't make it so I always add a couple more. I just then buy a big bulb and separate it out and plant the 3 or so that it's made of. you'll see the thick green stick straight stocks that come out of the ground to remind you where you planted them when they're ready.

                        2. re: morwen

                          Interesting point. I could grow them.

                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                              Select the largest shallots you can find.In Queens, where I live, they vary from $1.69 to $2.99/lb, depending on the market. Separate the bulbs, and plant them either in March or late fall. Plant at least twice as many as you intend to plant...not all of them come up. When they come up, pinch off any flower spikes before they bud up. I usually find them ready to harvest in mid-July, when the stems flop over and begin to shrivel. After digging, leave them in the sun for a day or to to dry them off, then keep them in an open basket. Each bulb should produce about 5 or more bulbs.

                          1. I have heard and read that the most serious uses for shallots are pan sauces and salad dressings. I could see where the subtlety of the shallot would be better than the stronger onion.

                            1. Use them quite frequently. A great many of my French concoctions call for shallots sauteed in butter.

                              1. I love shallots. Of course you can sub. onion for shallots, but the flavor isn't the same at all. I tend to buy a few good-sized ones at a time, and usually the total is less than a dollar (and that's at WF.)

                                1. Shallots have a unique flavor in between onions and garlic. I find them superior to onions in salad dressings and for the soffrito in risotto. The are a little more expensive than onions, but given the small amount used, the effect on the total cost of a dish is small. The shallots sold in little pouches with red netting are a rip-off. They are much more reasonably priced at farmers markets and supermarkets that carry them loose.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: cheesemaestro

                                    You said exactly what I was going to. I've had to substitute but the dish suffers for it IMO. And I won't EVER buy those little bags. Too expensive plus I like to pick through for the ones that are just the right size (for me).

                                    1. re: cheesemaestro

                                      Those little netted bags are the only way shallots come around here.

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        Once, I was looking for shallots in my regular supermarket, and found them hanging in the canned tomato aisle, a box of 2 tiny ones for $2.99. If that was my only choice, I wouldn't use them very often either.

                                    2. Paying too much for shallots? If your community has a SE Asian neighborhood, try the grocery stores there. Shallots cheap! Limes cheap! Makes you wonder why they are so expensive in a regular grocery store since the SE Asian grocers are selling them so inexpensively.

                                      1. We use shallots all the time and always have them in our larder. I will even use them when a recipe calls for a small amount of onion.

                                        1. You can't beat shallots for salad dressings. And salt-phobic Penzey's makes a shallot salt that is to die for.

                                          1. I wouldn't think of not having shallots in my cupboard-
                                            they r the best

                                            1. I do think that because they are fashionable right now, they are overused in published recipes.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                As far as I know, shallots have been used in French cooking for ages. And as someone mentioned upthread, crispy fried shallot rings are popular in South-East Asian cuisines, and have been for quite a while. To me, that defies your definition of "fashionable right now." However, I think you're probably referring to the recent upsurge in using shallots in non-Asian and French recipes on the net. I think that's more due to more people discovering how wonderful shallots can be, rather than people wanting to appear trendy.

                                                I also thought that shallots were just fancy onions until I started actually using them where they were called for in recipes. There really is a difference, and the cost of them is negligible for me (although they're not always available at my farmer's market).

                                                1. re: guster4lovers

                                                  Fashionable? I've been using them forever and never thought of myself as on the cutting edge about anything :)

                                                  And I really agree with those who mention using in salad dressing.

                                                2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                  I have to agree with Hank Hanover. I know that shallots pre-date all of us and have been used for centuries, but there seems to be a spike in their mainstream usage in the past 10 or so years. I'm not talking about classic recipes that I was unaware of or anything.

                                                  I suspect that about 80% of people who use them are using them knowingly and properly. I think the other 20% are just substituing out onions in an attempt to be fancy.

                                                  1. re: burritto

                                                    properly? fancy?

                                                    maybe the 20% just like the taste

                                                3. I can usually get a quart basket of shallots at my public market for a buck or two - don't know how that compares with onions, though.

                                                  I have one of those three-tiered hangy basket things just inside the basement landing - garlic in the top basket, then shallots, then onions. Since I've started keeping them on hand, just like onions and garlic (and celery and carrots, for that matter!), I find that I use them much more than I did when I'd have to buy them special for something.

                                                  Though I'll admit that it's still kind of ingrained to reach for onions first.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Krislady

                                                    Our farmers markets sell baskets for $1 - 2 too. At this time of year we buy them in quantity and store for the winter. Most survive just fine. So we don't have to pay those ridiculous super market prices for them.

                                                    I like them very much for their more subtle, mellow flavor.

                                                  2. I find the the flavor is shallot is different than red onion or white onions. I am a recent convert to using shallots instead of substituting.

                                                    The price per pound may be higher, but price per bulb is about the same, maybe even a little less for a bulb of shallot. Most recipes I've come across only call for a tablepoon or two of shallots. That's easily a half a bulb... which, to me, isn't really that expensive.

                                                    1. I don't use them too often but I recently found chopped shallots in the frozen food section at Target on sale. I bought a few of the boxes. When I find a use for them I thaw out a box a little, dig some out and refreeze them.

                                                      1. Most posts here take the approach of saying where shallots work well--and I agree they're great and unique--but I have to admit that the higher cost of them affects how I use them. (The few Asian markets in my area don't offer them at special discount, though I know that such places are the better shopping option for lots of things, like ginger and bean sprouts and tofu).

                                                        Anyway, a while back I bought some great shallots at a farmer's market. I eventually used them, but several times I found myself not using them because I kept thinking that I really shouldn't "use up" this valuable thing right now. Let's keep saving it for that dressing or pan sauce where it's really a key player. Lucky for me, the shallots lasted well over a month on my counter, because that's how long it took for enough worthy occasions to arise. And I cook from scratch pretty much every night.

                                                        So: I'm standing up for cheaper shallots!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                                          I remember one holiday meal where we bought a few pounds of shallots, peeled them and roasted them alongside the turkey. They were carmelized and none of the kids would eat them, their loss.

                                                        2. I just came from an HEB grocery store in Austin, Texas. The individual little brown shallots that are right next to the garlic was $5.99 per pound.

                                                          Now I realize it doesn't take much for a pan sauce or a salad dressing but shallots don't hold all that well once they have been cut. They will last a little longer if they have been sucked down in a sealed foodsaver bag.

                                                          If you only need half a shallot, you have a pretty good chance of the other half degrading before you get a chance to use it.

                                                          At least at that price, they are too expensive for what they bring to the party.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                            I don't know what your fridge is like but I keep pieces of shallots just tossed into a zipping bag for long periods of time, easily one week and on up to two probably. Maybe your fridge is set too warm. And one shallot is probably 50 to 75 cents? I can afford that.

                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                              Disagree that shallots don't last long after cutting them. I've kept them in ziplock bags, and they've lasted a week, just like coliver. And the Ziploc foodsaver bags keep them fresh even longer than that - up to two weeks.

                                                              And the last time I bought shallots at Trader Joe's, they were actually in that net bag - and I got two large shallots - for a total of $1.69. For less than 90 cents each, I'm good with that.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                try storing them in a glass jar. they'll keep forever.

                                                              2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                I can't argue against cost consciousness. Each person has to decide for him/herself what is too expensive. However, I wonder if you've actually cooked with shallots or if this is purely an economic argument. Does the flavor also matter or just the price?

                                                              3. I've never cooked with shallots before.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Norm Man

                                                                  They're worth trying. If you want something between an onion and a couple garlic cloves in a given preparation. Obviously, it matters more with fresher uses, like salad dressings and pan sauces. In longer cooking, what's distinctive about shallots will be muted or even lost.

                                                                2. I love shallots and can't add much since all my uses for shallots are previously covered in this thread, but I'll add that the freeze dried shallots from Penzey's are well worth keeping on hand for those times when you want them but don't have them. I reconstitute in water and use like fresh or even chop them into a fine powder when dried when i don't need the texture.


                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                      I sometimes buy the freeze-dried shallots from Spice House. I have to stop myself from eating them right out of the jar, like candy. The dried ones aren't very budget-friendly either though.

                                                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                                                        that is a good idea, I hadn't read that yet.
                                                                        you can always get them, as I do in the net bags, and get a baby mandoline and slice them ever so thin, and do the above. use them as you need them straight out of the freezer.

                                                                      2. I adore shallots, but there cost an arm and a leg here, too. Even at the farmer's market. I could hit the Asian market but the price would be eaten up in gas money. So this girl only snags them for certain special things where the delicate taste shows nicely. (Salad dressing, farinata, pan sauces, etc).

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Vetter

                                                                          I'm gonna check out the Asian markets too. although been in several in my travels, like always in Vancouver BC, I haven't specifically looked for shallots in there but will now. if they're a good price, in BC or anywhere I check out Asian markets, I'll report back cause it'd be nice to know that around the country there are bargains to be found.

                                                                        2. I know a shallot tastes a little different from an onion. I know you don't use much shallot when you use it.

                                                                          Unfortunately, with a 600% price difference, I can't help feeling taken advantage of.

                                                                          1. Where are you? If you live anywhere near a Southeast Asian neighborhood, you should be able to find shallots in virtually every market at dirt cheap pricing. So far, in various places in South Florida, O.C. CA, and L.A. we've lived near Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese markets, all of which had prices on shallots a fraction of the supermarket chains. My brother even has some good options within a decent drive in BFE Texas. As I recall, even a Halal market I used to frequent had great pricing, too. Most of these places will also have crazy-good pricing on a huge range of produce, specialty items, fish and seafood (SE Asian mostly here), as well as some meats (Halal butcher = amazing prices on some great lamb), so well worth a jaunt if you're game.

                                                                            I've found there's no viable flavor substitute for shallot. It really adds a subtle touch you'll never get with the more aggressive onions or garlic. Hopefully, you can find yourself a good source and get to play with it some more!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: mangetoutoc

                                                                              I get mine at a South American market that specializes in produce.

                                                                            2. i haven't read this whole thread, but i suggest that you seek out asian markets, where shallots are *way* cheaper than at regular grocery store chains.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                It's a 60 mile round trip for us to the nearest town that has ethnic food stores. Hell, it's that same round trip to the nearest Walmart, Home Depot, etc. And I'm ok with that. And the Kroger's there sells only the netted bags. Fortunately we have a natural/health/gourmet food store here in the village that stocks a fine array of dried herbs and spices, and local produce, some organic some not, but all local. But guess what, no shallots.

                                                                                1. re: morwen

                                                                                  ChrisVR's post above about Penzey's freeze-dried shallots would be the way for you to go, then.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    Except that I grow them now. Problem solved. We try very hard to stay out of the "city", making a list and only going in when necessary. Even then there's no Costco, Whole Foods, TJ's, Super Walmart available. No Asian ethnic although there is an Indian ethnic and lots of Mexican ethnic stores. There's Krogers and Food Lion and I'm pretty disgusted by both, opting to buy as much as possible from the little family run market that buys in local produce in our village. Farmers markets here are mostly a laugh. There's some local produce in them now but you see mostly a lot of cased corporate produce, the same stuff the grocery stores have. I don't buy from those vendors, I hunt out the locals.

                                                                                  2. re: morwen

                                                                                    Your 60 miles is my 100 miles! But we go at least every couple of week and, like you, hit all the stores (food, hardware, whatever), have lunch and then come home and take naps :) So the things I can't find here, I can almost always get there. That's where I visit the Asian and Hispanic markets, as well as WF, TJs, Costco, etc. I still fondly remember our lives in SF where we could walk a block and a half and be on a street with every type of shopping possiblity. And I love it when we're staying in NYC and get to live that way again for at least short periods of time.

                                                                                2. Usually not, but if a new recipe calls for shallots, then I will try to use them.

                                                                                  1. I use them when making salad dressings and in beurre blanc. For everything else, I use other types of onions.

                                                                                    1. I adore shallots as well, but I do resent the high price. They are super cheap at the asian markets and I am lucky enough to have a nearby store that sells them in bulk rather than the expensive mesh packages. I think shallots are especially good in tuna salad and chicken salad. Often, the onions are too strong, so the delicate flavor of the shallot really shines.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: sophia519

                                                                                        that's what I wanted to remember to add info on, the tuna sandwiches. onion is harsh, face it, shallots in there you get the same bite but much more mild. thanks for reminding me...
                                                                                        oh chicken salad sandwiches in there too, duh bom..........

                                                                                      2. To quote from St. Anthony Bourdain, Patron Saint of iconclastic cooks everywhere (page 80, "Kitchen Confidential") :

                                                                                        "There are also some ingredients that separate food at home from food in a restaurant--stuff that 'we' in a professional kitchen have on hand that you probably don't--and I'll tell you now which of these make all the difference in the world.

                                                                                        "Shallots. You almost never see this item in a home kitchen, but out in the world, they're an essential ingredient. Shallots are one of the things--a basic prep item in every mise-en-place--that make restaurant food taste different from your food. In my kitchen we use nearly twenty pounds a day. You should always have some around for sauces, dressings and saute items."

                                                                                        Like you, Hank Hanover, I rarely use shallots--mostly I buy them when doing a French dish, but otherwise, I rarely think about them. Perhaps I should, based on what Chef Bourdain wrote. They're a pain to peel but they keep much better than regular onions.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                          That's a great quote, and I believe it's entirely true. It does make a difference in so many things...just one more reason I wish I had unlimited access to ingredients as you would in a professional kitchen. There are certain things that I'm reluctant to get, due to prohibitively high price, that professional kitchens use on a daily basis.

                                                                                          Thankfully, shallots are not on that list (at least for me). :-)

                                                                                          1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                            I suspect Bourdain is correct but the flavor difference is rather subtle and primarily shows up in salad dressings and pan sauces. I suspect that it even has to be a pretty light pan sauce like with chicken or fish. A beefy pan sauce involving a beef or a veal glace would probably overpower a shallot. A restaurant makes a lot of pan sauces and salad dressings.

                                                                                            A home cook would maybe make a pan sauce 1 - 2 times a week and maybe make there own salad dressing more often, assuming the home cook really liked salads with vinaigrette.

                                                                                            I think the huge advantage a restaurant cook has over a home cook is the sauces available in a restaurant.

                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                              As a restaurant chef I can tell you that are commonly used in Veal Stock based sauces and that their flavor is not masked.
                                                                                              Many of shallots attributes have been listed already one I did not see is how well they melt into long cooked sauces.
                                                                                              Not to be persnickety, and I think that you meant Stocks not "sauces" in your last sentence.

                                                                                              1. re: chefj

                                                                                                The stocks too although I understand that there is a growing trend toward buying meat bases and prepackaged glaces in restaurants. Hopefully, that isn't true in top quality restaurants.

                                                                                                So you can taste the difference between a shallot and a red onion in a long cooked sauce or even a beef flavored pan sauce?

                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                  Yes. I need to sign off for a bit but I will elaborate later. Cheers

                                                                                          2. Use them all the time. Of course, they are .99 cents a lb at my local grocery store. At $4 a lb I would probably substitute onions in most recipes.

                                                                                            1. I am just going to have to check the asian market.

                                                                                              I keep seeing posts where people are getting shallots for $1 or $2 per pound and my grocery store is selling them at $6 per pound.

                                                                                              I double checked and if I could figure out how to download a photo off my cell phone (shakes phone), I would post a photo of the sign.

                                                                                              I have been meaning to go to see if they have alternatives to what kind of noodles I can get for Lo Mein anyway.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                If you see Twin Marquis brand pre-cooked lo mein noodles (or any of their others, like udon and the like), get them! They are available across the country, I believe.

                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                  They're terribly expensive in my parents' small Michigan town too - only available in those tiny mesh packets for like $3 per 2 shallots. I live in Queens, NYC and most of the stores here have them for $2/pound - twice the price of onions, but still relatively inexpensive. I usually buy 5 or 6 pounds for my parents at Christmas and they find that they keep long enough for them to use them up - a couple of months at least if kept cool and dry.

                                                                                                2. Ok. I went to an asian market today. They had 1 pound net bags of shallots for $1.49 per pound. That is a huge difference from the $5.99 my grocery store 3 miles away charges.

                                                                                                  I hate it when you chowhounders are right! I guess I will have to start using shallots and now that I have a pound of em, that is probably a 1 year supply.

                                                                                                  I was also able to get lo mein noodles.

                                                                                                  I saw some really strange things. What the ???? is a jackfruit? I went here to find out. http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/jackfruit...

                                                                                                  This is what I found out. “Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. The exterior of the compound fruit is green or yellow when ripe. The interior consists of large edible bulbs of yellow, banana-flavored flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The seed is 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and is white and crisp within. “

                                                                                                  I still don't think I will be trying jackfruit anytime soon.

                                                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                    "1 pound net bags of shallots for $1.49"

                                                                                                    Yes, but will you use 1 pound.

                                                                                                    I know jackfruit and had it when I were young, but I don't really dig it. On top of that, how am I going to finish eating that thing alone. I like durians much better:


                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      "The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust " That is quite a description of a durian and it is as ugly as the jackfruit. Wow, that is some combo.

                                                                                                      I understand shallots have a long shelf life so I suspect I will be able to use them. I fancy my self a bit of an engineer/scientist soI am going to extensively compare them to mild red onions. I'll start with tasting them raw then sweated then carmelized then in a salad dressing then in a pan sauce. When I am through, I will have taste profiles locked away in my mind.

                                                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover


                                                                                                        There are some major differences. A jackfruit is much larger than a durian. The durian fragrance/smell is much more intense. In fact, they don't smell alike. Finally, the spikes on a durian are sharp, whereas the spikes on a jackfruit are smooth in comparison.

                                                                                                        I bet if you look out next time in that Asian supermarket, you will find the durians. You can barely smell it if you put one right up to your nose.

                                                                                                        Some people love them. Some people want to vomit. Which one will you be? Go ahead eat one and that taste profile will also locked away in your mind.


                                                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                            I saw a clip from Dr. Oz's show recently where they were tasting "foods that cure from all over the world" and one of them was durian...Oz tasted it and someone from the audience did too...getting past the aroma of it (after it was cut open) was the problem and both of them agreed that it tastes better than it smells. Now I'm interested in tasting it!

                                                                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            "Go ahead eat one and that taste profile will also locked away in your mind."
                                                                                                            yea, but he might just die a terrible death too......yikes! ^^^^ that's way risky^^^^^

                                                                                                          3. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                            "When I am through, I will have taste profiles locked away in my mind."

                                                                                                            yea, and a lot of them left to "PLANT".............. do it Hank, you know you can do it! we'll all support you here, go a head, make the first step to freedom and financial bliss...... plant those bulbs!

                                                                                                          4. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            No you don't! durians? those things stink to high heavenville...........blech to the smell, wouldn't ever venture to taste one, I may die :)))

                                                                                                          5. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                            That's awesome, Hank! Glad you found them at the right sort of price and also got to explore your nearby Asian market. They're a treasure trove of groovy new ingredients to experiment with and try out. Ethnic markets and all the exciting new finds can be a bit like a drug, though. You find yourself getting hooked in no time flat and scouring your neighborhood for the next "new stuff" fix. *heh*

                                                                                                            1. re: mangetoutoc

                                                                                                              Some of their produce looked very nice. They had some great looking bok choy and Baby bok choy and those miniature eggplants. I got some bean sprouts for my lo mein.

                                                                                                              I picked some gelatinous rice. Not sure what I will do with that.

                                                                                                              I was surprised that their chicken feet weren't any less expensive than my grocery store. I told my wife. "E.F Mama" said I wasn't to bring chicken feet into her house, so much for that idea.

                                                                                                              I told her if I could find one with the leg attached I could chase her around the house with it.

                                                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                Woot! So awesome that you found so many fun new things to play with! Just wait, before long, you'll be scouring all the not-so-traveled aisles for even more treasures. I'm smiling ear-to-ear for you!

                                                                                                                *heh heh* I'm so used to the aversion to the chicken feet. Fortunately, Mr. MangeTout is a very good sport and didn't head for the hills when he first saw them floating in the soup pot. They add such a wonderful body and gelatinous yumminess to the stock! Well, that and I just like to eat 'em. I'm funny like that.

                                                                                                              2. re: mangetoutoc

                                                                                                                My local Indian mini market has very inexpensive spices. I would have literally paid X10 if I bought the same spices in a normal supermarket. The Indian store also have the freshest okra. They are always always bright green and firm and crisp. They look like this photo:


                                                                                                                whereas the normal supermarkets usually have the old brownish-green soft winkled okra.

                                                                                                              3. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                I buy canned jackfruit whenever I am in an Asian market. I was introduced to it at a Thai place that used slivers of it to garnish coconut ice cream. It is canned in yellow petal-shaped segments that have a distinct grain along which they will tear. I have made jackfruit ice cream and jello with it. I gave a can to a friend, who thought it was awful. It does have an odd but not gross smell, which is not reflected in its taste. He loves cilantro, which I loathe, so we are at a culinary stalemate. There is also canned green jackfruit which is not sweet and has savory uses (never eaten it).

                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                  anyone watch that BBC show "come dine with me"?
                                                                                                                  it's great, like the show I used to watch here "dinner party".
                                                                                                                  it's 4 unrelated people who each make dinner one night and try to out do the other ones.
                                                                                                                  last CDWM I watched had a lady from the Phillipines who made her dessert out of jack fruit and canned beans etc. very weird but this conversation is reminding me of that episode.......love those shows, so entertaining.

                                                                                                                2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                  In South India the jack fruit is used in Curries(like a vegetable) and fried into chips with or with out spice.
                                                                                                                  You should try it. The Chips are great with cocktails!.

                                                                                                                  1. re: chefj

                                                                                                                    In North India there is jackfruit curry as well. I have had jackfruit curry (must be made at a certain stage of ripeness) and also jackfruit stone curry (the pit, which is soaked and then cooked). I like jack fruit just as a fruit to eat, to me it tastes like a peppery sweet mushy banana. Yum.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                    when in Kauai for hubby's birthday, our hotel had growing all over the place, breadfruit trees. now those things are odd..........very odd............................anyone ever been to Kauai and had the "killer bars" at that little tiny bakery on the main street halfway through the island? gad they're killer good...........just an after thought, sorry to go OT

                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                      Mmm... Jackfruit...

                                                                                                                      We eat it curried - it's used in an unripe state this way, and it tastes more like potato than a fruit, but in a really really good way (I'm not a huge fan of potatoes). This is one of my favourite things. :)

                                                                                                                    2. Oh! in Indian Markets you should be able to buy just a piece of the whole fruit. They usually have Winter melon, Pumpkins and other large fruits cut in to smaller pieces for sale.

                                                                                                                      1. Shallots rock. Irreplaceable in (1) vinaigrettes (no other allium does what shallots do), (2) finishing a pan sauce, and (3) as a soup base combined with mushrooms instead of a mirepoix or soffrito, et cet.

                                                                                                                        They've also come down in price in Boston area markets over the past decade, and the supply is much better, though we don't get the best European shallot varieties still....

                                                                                                                        1. For my red wine sauce for steaks I find there is no substitute for shallots. I also love them in what my BF calls my "eggy sandwich" in which I lightly saute the shallots then add a scrambled egg mixture. I put this on either toast or an english muffin, depending on what's on hand. Top it off with bacon. Occasionally fresh herbs will make it into the egg mixture. He's very happy when I serve this to him. As well as the red wine sauce. He loves them so much he's started to grow them!

                                                                                                                          1. Shallots all the time! If you read KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL by Anthony Bourdain, he reveals that shallots are the secret ingredient that chefs use to make anything taste 'upscale'.
                                                                                                                            That was a great tip, and now I buy and use them all the time, whenever my senses tell me it would be a good ingredient.

                                                                                                                            I find that they really enhance any type of vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                            1. i was first turned onto shallots because of a salmon dish in grand central station's oyster bar. the simple shallot butter sauce was truly sublime.
                                                                                                                              i hate having to peel and mince shallots, though! but the flavor is unique, subtle and slightly sweet, and because they are unique, they are irreplaceable.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                I hate to peel those little buggers too, and peel them, wish they came in onion size, it'd be easier.

                                                                                                                              2. i could never sub eschallots, they are one of my favourite flavours. Profound contribution I know...

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                                                                                                                                  Just a confirmation of what many of us have said, Samuel. :-)

                                                                                                                                2. I do because:
                                                                                                                                  1. love the flavor of them, in between garlic and onion
                                                                                                                                  2: they're so easy to grow, they're always there in my yard ready to pluck out of the dirt and the burrowers don't bother them.......... :))))) << TUJ!

                                                                                                                                  1. If a recipe calls for them, I use them. I do think it's worth it. I didn't always feel this way but was swayed as I continued to put them in various soups and or sauces. Really makes savory things sing—same with leeks.

                                                                                                                                    That said, I don't make recipes requiring shallots that often because yup, they're more expensive, I'm a big ole cheapskate, and onions are still mighty tasty.

                                                                                                                                    1. Well, now that I can find them at a reasonable price, I don't have a problem using them. In fact, the shallots were less expensive than the red onions at my regular grocery store.

                                                                                                                                      I am considering growing some shallots, perhaps in containers on my patio. If I do that, I want to find some french grey shallots. After all, if you are gonna grow them, they might as well be the best.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                        Territorial Seeds has French Greys: http://www.territorialseed.com/produc...

                                                                                                                                        But you might want to order soon because the only ship them in the early fall, starting in September.

                                                                                                                                      2. i use them more than onions.

                                                                                                                                        i recall 2 separate shows where chefs were talking about what makes restaurant food better/different than home food. one was anthony bourdain, i cannot recall the other.

                                                                                                                                        both had shallots on their list

                                                                                                                                        1. if I could get them for $3 or $4 a pound, I'd think that was cheap! I have to pay about that for a teeny little bag that has like 3 or 4 small bulbs in it.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                                            Ah...now I understand your question! I haven't seen them at more than $2.99/lb in any store in years, and didn't get the big deal. Yes, at $6/lb I would use them far less, and be sad about it. As it stands, though, there's always one or two on the kitchen counter with the garlic and onions.

                                                                                                                                          2. For those of you who know both the expensive shallot at the mainstream grocery and the Asian shallots at the Asian grocery, are they really the same exact thing? The Asian shallot isn't significantly stronger or is there any flavor difference? Also, which type of Asian grocer? Vietnamese or any type? I am interested in trying shallots now.

                                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                                              I don't know, but if I can get them that cheaply at an asian market, that's fine, since I want them for Thai recipes anyway.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                                                I ones I got looked exactly the same. They were a reddish brown.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                                                    Yep that's them. At the Asian market, I got a 1 pound net bag for $1.49. At the HEB grocery store in Austin, Texas, they were being sold separately for $5.99/lb.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                          Yes! Significantly less expensive for some reason. "A life without shallots is a life not lived." from rudeboy......

                                                                                                                                                1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                                                  In my experience Asian stores are excellent about labeling varieties, if any exist. For example, fresh basil is usually cheaper at Asian markets as well, and they do a great job of distinctly labeling Thai basil, sweet (European) basil, and black (African) basil.

                                                                                                                                                  And, yeah, any kind of Asian market should do---although I would certainly keep an eye out for ones geared toward your largest local Asian population. And larger stores are more likely to feature English-language signs and labels.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                                                    I am sure you have seen the prices of spices are much more expensive in mainstream upscale grocery stores than the little Indian grocey stores. I just don't think expensive items equal to better quality goods

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                                                                                                      So do I, but if the OP can't taste the difference, he might as well use onions.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                        Taste wasn't the issue with the OP: cost was. He received good advice, to seek out smaller markets and avoid the big box prices . . . and so he did, and is now considering growing his own.

                                                                                                                                                        And, following this thread, so did I purchase from the bin of such at my favorite local market. Goodbye, Spice House five-buck bottle of freeze-dried French shallots reserved for special occasions! Hello, newly purchased bag of eight shallots for $1.49/lb!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                          Well, he did call it a "small, mild onion." If that what it tastes like to him, he might as well use a (cheaper) small, mild onion.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                            true - it isn't a small mild onion, but a piquant explosion of allium.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                          Since I was able to get some shallots and test them (not through testing yet), I can determine a difference in taste. There is certainly a difference in aroma while sweating them. Tasting them raw and sweated, the garlic taste in the onion is very subtle but the aroma is quite strong. You think you are sweating garlic for a moment.

                                                                                                                                                          Frankly, if I still had to pay $6.00/lb for shallots, I still wouldn't be using them. Now, my shallots cost less than a red onion that I was comparing shallots to.

                                                                                                                                                          If I grow them, I might as well grow the expensive one... the French grey shallot. Wonder what it tastes like.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                            Aroma is a good point since a large percentage of taste is smell.
                                                                                                                                                            They also melt into sauces and compound butters in why that onions can not.
                                                                                                                                                            You will find the Grey Shallot to very similar to the red but with a sharper, stronger flavor and aroma.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                              Just stopped by to say thanks for inspiring my latest food blog by bringing up the chicken feet. Cheers!

                                                                                                                                                        3. I use them but not often. I think they're lovely, but I only buy them when they are called for in a recipe or I'm making something special.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I double checked at the grocery today. Sure enough, no shallots in pound size bags. Just the little tiny bags for $2.19 with two shallots in them about the size of a ping-pong ball each. Maybe a little smaller. Golf ball size? something like that.

                                                                                                                                                            1. I've still not gone into a specialty store and gotten the shallots in there or checked out the price, but will be interested if they are a better price.
                                                                                                                                                              But for now, mine in the yard are doing fine.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Everyone talking about how much cheaper shallots are in Southeast Asian markets has to realize that going out of your way is part of the cost. When you add up the time it makes to go out of your way plus any gas or anything associated with this stop, you are still paying a premium for shallots. Saying, "go to your local SE Asian market" is only a way to save money if you happen to pass one by or shop there routinely anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                Until recently, my option for shallots was a red box with two small-ish bulbs for $2.99. I used them a few times just to learn them, but didn't come to use them routinely because of the cost. Just today I saw that the supermarket was selling them by the pound. I got to pick out the ones I liked the most and it cost.... $0.50. One-sixth of the cost for better product.

                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: burritto

                                                                                                                                                                  :) But now the problem's: what to cook with them. Or maybe that's not much of a problem. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: burritto

                                                                                                                                                                    i think the point was, as the OP said below, that a lot of people may have had asian or even latino markets near them, local to them, but weren't shopping at them, so weren't availing themselves of the cheaper priced shallots. They just didn't know - i don't think anyone was saying drive across your state looking for a SE Asian market. Tho some people who responded will do that routinely, to stock up on things they can't normally get but want, and to those people the cost of gas once a month or whatever was worth it to them for products they couldn't get locally. But some just don't think to shop in the ethnic grocers around them and they could be missing out on a lot of interesting products - and a lot of times, much more reasonably priced, good quality produce.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I don't see the point, as I love big flavours and don't mind the strong onion taste, raw, cooked or caramelized however ... I do buy the shallots because I stopped buying onions due to my SO being a picky eater and hating onions, garlic and a lot of other foodie things ... *sigh*

                                                                                                                                                                    I honestly don't taste the shallot at all, it's too mild but I can sneak it into recipes, don't see what the point is in that anymore though so I'm thinking of not buying them anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Wow! I thought this thread was dead. My major complaint was that shallots were so expensive but I did find a cheap soure at an Asian market that was only a few miles down the road.

                                                                                                                                                                      I still don't think they are worth paying $6.00/lb even though you only use one which is maybe an ounce.

                                                                                                                                                                      They definitely taste different from onions, almost like a cross between an onion and garlic.

                                                                                                                                                                      The solution is to grow them. They are an onion. How hard can it be to grow them? Autumn is the time for planting I believe. I would like to get some of the French gray shallots. I found a source of the seeds online.
                                                                                                                                                                      I appreciate you peoples support. I took a lot of grief from this thread. Chowhounders are opinionated and passionate and they don't like to hear the things I said.

                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                        I use them when there is season for norwegian shallots, which is the best. They are much much bigger than normal ones, and tastes greater. It´s usually june, july and august. You can´t get them any more now :/

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ramius

                                                                                                                                                                          We've split a discussion about growing herbs and shallots to our Gardening board. You can find it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/738895

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                          Hank, we are an opinionated bunch, to be sure. The good news is that despite the differences of opinion that may prevail, you are certainly entitled to retain your original point of view. Things can get tricky on these boards when a poster insists on having his/her opinion validated by all others, or thinks that his/her opinion is simply better because the poster knows best. We're all entitled to think that, I suppose, but it makes for some very tiresome reading. It would appear that you have moved from not considering the use of shallots to growing them, and that is a very productive progression. Better yet will be when you get to eat what you've grown, which is just delightful! Don't worry about not being validated...just be comfortable with what you know is best for you and you'll be fine.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. I use shallots, but I rarely use more than 3 halves (1.5 medium shallots) at a time so the cost doesn't really bother me much. Once I saw them for over 6 bucks a pound at one store but I just don't buy them there - usually I get them for 2.99/lb and buy much less than a full pound. I've tried white and red onions to replace and for my recipes they weren't the same. Maybe I'd switch if a recipes I cook called for a lot. I also generally just cook for myself so I'm not using up tons and tons.

                                                                                                                                                                          If you want to use them but the cost bothers you I can't imagine that they are all that hard to grow.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. A note re longevity. We were gone for three weeks and had one shallot here. It must be at least a month old as I try to eat out of my pantry before trips. It's still just as fresh as can be.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Shallots are an interesting subject because not all "shallots" are created equal! "Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums" by J.L. Brewster offers an excellent overview of the complex world of shallots.

                                                                                                                                                                              Much of what is sold as shallot is infinitely mixed up with ONION, Allium cepa, genetics. This is especially true of a) the red shallots, b) those sold as seed by Dutch companies, and c) the famed banana shallots of France. While it is fashionable to claim a botanical "ascalonicum" for them, in fact this is not really true.

                                                                                                                                                                              There appears to be 3 broad lines of descent in the Onion family:

                                                                                                                                                                              Allium vavilovii and the cepa stream : the "onions"

                                                                                                                                                                              Allium psekemense/ oschanini stream : the grey shallots, which also have some amount of the onion genome mixed in

                                                                                                                                                                              Allium altaicum stream: the Asian scallions [and almost 138 other species ]

                                                                                                                                                                              This is a rough and dirty scheme, not a taxonomically accurate summation. It is meant to promote discussion into the topic of shallots!

                                                                                                                                                                              My question is: We find 2 types of shallots on sale. The small, round Asian type in Oriental markets, and the larger, elongated type in supermarkets.

                                                                                                                                                                              Quite obviously, the latter is the product of Dutch genetics and has CONSIDERABLE ALLIUM CEPA in its genome, it is more than half onion, unlike the gray shallot, which has just a modest amount [<1/3 of total] of the cepa chromosomes mixed in.

                                                                                                                                                                              Bourdain et al. are kidding themselves when they speak of the "special flavor" of shallots that are currently available. So does Gordon Ramsay, when he speaks of the "banana shallots" of Normandy. Those are Allium cepa, almost all the way through. A rose by any other name.

                                                                                                                                                                              YES, true French red shallots WOULD taste different from ONIONS, as would TRUE GRAY SHALLOTS.

                                                                                                                                                                              But the monsters available today in the supermarkets are more onion than true shallots. Super-Chefs are kidding themselves if they can taste X, Y, Z! Where do they think the SIZE comes from?

                                                                                                                                                                              So, where can we find true gray shallots for sale, for culinary use? I should be grateful to be guided to a reliable source in the US. Thanks in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. As others have mentioned, I often keep a limited number of shallots on hand for dressings and certain sauces in which I think their distinct flavor really sings. If I don't have them, onions always do in a pinch.

                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                  Agree. If I use onions, I'll soak them in water first. PS: Glad to see you here :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                    Same here, I keep 3 or 4 which I use in dressings and particularly love with sauteed mushrooms or any sort of steamed seafood dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. There is a huge difference between shallots and red onions. I don't use them often, but when I want a shallot in my scrambled eggs, there is no substitute.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed. And if I substituted, it wouldn't be a red onion.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. If I remember well, shallots were essential to Alan Barnes' steak tartare recipe. I miss all three.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I use shallots because I am not a real good cook, so I follow recipes , that way people think I can cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Acorn2

                                                                                                                                                                                          Good recipes are good friends; fine dining establishments (and other successful restaurants) rely on them every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                            Many chefs I know have their "secret" ingredients...and yes I'm talking fine dining. Chains are more likely to use the standard recipe route.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                              Unless a chef is cooking every part of every dish that leaves the kitchen during every service, the sous chefs and line cooks must have explicit directions to follow (i.e., recipes) in order to present a consistent product to the diner. Even "secret" ingredients must be shared with the team.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                Agreed. Not that this is fine dining necessarily, but we toured a kitchen on a cruise ship and they even had photos of the dishes for plating purposes. And some of it IS fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah a cruise ship is much more like a chain restaurant kitchen, efficiency is king. They turn out some decent food here and there, but still. Not the best comparison.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I deliberately used the word "necessarily" because there are now a number of fine dining options on cruise ships. We had a fabulous meal on a couple of them and some people are opting only for those restaurants. But, again, as pikawicca said, every good restaurant uses recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know, I was on the Norweigan Breakaway on the second cruise. They are still feeding the masses, not my idea of fine dining. I mean, everything fresh you are eating is several days old at least, except for day one. And this is all getting way off track anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Definitely not feeding the masses in my experience. One place we dined could feed max 35-40 probably. And food is delivered at every port. Maybe you'd like to start a thread about this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                            can't win.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            suffice it to say, I'm on your tetherball team. *)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Acorn2

                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't knock yourself. If you can produce good-tasting meal by whatever means, you are a good cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It seems like 70% of the people out there can't follow a recipe anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Acorn2

                                                                                                                                                                                              We removed a bunch of responses from here -- the recipes vs. no recipes discussion was recently done to death in another thread, and it got pretty ugly here, too. It's one of those issues where no minds are going to be changed, so we'd ask that you all let it go here. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Shallots don't really taste like onions so I'm not sure how they are interchangeable with red onion. I could see replacing an onion with a shallot, but certainly not the other way around.

                                                                                                                                                                                              And even if they did cost $3/lbs (which I've never seen), the most shallot intensive recipe wouldn't cost you much more than $.60….

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: redips

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think people frequently do math that way. Not just for shallots.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I really like shallots with simple veg preps, in rice dishes not overwhelmed with other flavors (e.g., a risotto or pilaf), and with seafood. I don't remember the particular dish, perhaps it was a risotto, but recently I reached for a shallot in addition to the onion while cooking and I really felt the end flavors were much more interesting in a very good way. Now I keep them on hand for everyday cooking. FWIW, I live in the US Pacific NW, and shallots are not outrageously priced here (or I'd probably still save them for special recipes, as I did when I lived in the Midwest and found them more expensive).

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. i use shallots sparingly for a sauce. When it is neccessary, I go to the store and buy 1 shallot. Even if the price is way high, 1 shallot is seldom more than 5o cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I never did but I still think the solution is to buy French gray shallots on line and use them to grow your own. Then you will have the good ones and they will be cheap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                      What a difference 3-1/2 years makes, right Hank? :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I first started on Chowhound, I experimented with posts designed to get lots of responses. I found making controversial statements worked very well. I learned from some of the responses and got big laughs from the angry, berserk responses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        As for the original post, it's still basically true. Shallots are a very expensive variant of an onion. In many recipes that call for a shallot, a mild onion would work just fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, Hank, you're standing your ground after all these responses, that's for sure!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have moved away from my original position a tiny bit. There are a few of my recipes that a shallot is the only solution. In those cases when I go to the store I buy one. The clerk usually asks what it is and once I tell them they charge me a ridiculous amount per pound but my 1 shallot only weighed a tenth of a pound.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shallots are in the same family as both onions AND garlic so I suppose you can sub them with garlic also. I just keep a couple around. FAR less money than some things I buy :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree...grow your own...shallots...garlic...parsley....scallions...chives etc. In a container garden if there is no outdoor space. I had a huge cherry tomato plant in a round garden container out on my front porch crawling up a trellis last summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                            hum..............french gray shallots............I think I'm only familiar with the purple-ish ones. wonder how the gray ones are different?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Can't love without 'em. I buy 5 lb bags.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Have to ask, where do you live that you can find 5 lb. bags of shallots? I'm in the Midwest US and as others have lamented, they are expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My daughter brought a large bag when she visited for Christmas. She said they came in her CSA box. I just used the last one a few weeks ago and am not looking forward to paying $$$ at the local grocery store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm assuming a restaurant supply house like Restaurant Depot has them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's how they come from a wholesale produce company. You could always ask your local grocery to put one aside for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Restaurant Depot it is. I buy garlic in more or less the same quantity there too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the replies all.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Darn! Sometimes I hate living in a small town.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Add "restaurant supply" to my list of errands during my next foray on the Big City.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If Rest Depot/Jetro, you'll have to bring proof of your connection to a food establishment, so be prepared!Others, not so much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The resto supply store in my area is open to the public.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You need a business certificate to get a card at Rest Depot, but it can be from anything, not just a food business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        .............pedal...........which is why so many of us grown our own. they couldn't be easier. just stick 'em in the ground and let her rip. mine are crazy outside right now. they're in happy land or happy season, not sure which.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 ibs fo shallots huh... I bought a 1 pound bag once because the Asian market had them cheap that way. Mostof them rotted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As I said.. i use them sparingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Correction -- it's 10 lb bags. For $13.50 today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I use shallot's, I love shallots!! There I said it and I'm not ashamed!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. i use them rarely because they are such a PITA to peel. nice flavor though. first had them when i ate at the oyster bar in nyc, in a lovely simple sauce on a perfect salmon filet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Really? Never thought of that and will give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It works like a charm. I cut off the root end and smash it with the flat portion of the knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the name which i can never understand -- fidhkybnva -- you are an official chowhound saint!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly, thanks. "Field hockey in Virginia."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm glad to finally have confirmation on that. That's what it looked like, but I've been very wrong at the "license plate game" before. :p

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you I was stumped by that too! Now what's the "b" doing in there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your guess is as good as mine. I can't remember, it's my original aol screen name from over a decade ago. I think it stands for "been in" Virginia. As a military brat, living in Virginia for longer than anywhere else was probably significant to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I started calling myself that, I like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It sounds like you've got everything under control in the kitchen - directing the mise en place into the pan at the right time with precision. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That is a good tip! The skins tend to be clingy, and I wind up using my fingernail, which I HATE doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. How can you not use shallots?!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I love them for sauces and vinaigrettes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Shallots are something that I used to buy when a recipe specifically called for them, but now they're just as much a staple as onions and potatoes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Never without them now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's me exactly! I'm out right now and didn't realize it. That will be remedied.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have one of those double bowl baker rack thingies and I have my citruses, garlic and shallots in there, so I can always take inventory.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The only question I have is- what took me so long!?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have a really large wooden bowl for the same thing but then I get to the store and can't remember :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      yeah... vinaigrettes just aren't my thing. When I'm gonna have a salad which is probably less often than a lot of chowhounders, I use ranch dressing or whip up a little batch of thousand island.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. that old school A LA VODKA sauce that has become an abomination was properly made with shallots, as far as I know that is how all the restaurants I used to work in way back when used to make it to order. sauté shallots, add vodka, cream, tomato sauce, rigatoni, not penne rigati, and serve... later they added peas, prosciutto and other stuff, and now we have one of the worst dishes that can come out of a McDonalds kitchen...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now that you mention it, that was my first reason to purchase shallots. 1970s, so it wasn't easy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. My mother in law does all the time for anything where an onion won't be cooked - Sri Lankan sambols, for example. I follow her lead on that, but only when I have shallots on hand, which is only sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. i love shallots to stir-fry asian spiced greens!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i also use them in my "house" dressing. shallots, garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and a little dijon mustard to make it creamy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Try this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Do about a one hour carmelizing of a skillet of shallots. You will be suprised!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I generally only get shallots when a recipe calls for them. Apparently, most restaurant chefs believe that they are essential to serious cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just have never seen much difference between them and mild white onions, but Anthony Bourdain in "Kitchen Confidential" lists them as one of seven ingredients that separate professional chefs from amateurs. (They are: shallots, butter, roasted garlic, chiffonaded parsley, stock, demi-glace, and a catch-all category of herbs--chervil, basil tops, chive sticks, mint tops, etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here is what he says about shallots on pages 80-81 of "Kitchen Confidential": "You almost never see this item in a home kitchen, but out in the world, they're an essential ingredient. Shallots are one of the things--a basic prep item in every mise-en-place--that make restaurant food taste different from your food. In my kitchen we use nearly twenty pounds a day. You should always have some around for sauces, dressings and saute items."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd sure like to know HOW they make restaurant taste different than my food, but I will take Chef Bourdain's word for it. I guess I have some experimenting of my own to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And the difference between the flavor and behavior of Shallots and Onions was pretty thoroughly discussed earlier in the thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for posting this. I haven't read that book but I find his list interesting. I am a home cook and regularly use some of those items, but it looks like I need to make a demi-glace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just used a shallot yesterday making liver pate. I like the different taste it adds rather than just using a yellow onion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Julia in Woodinville, WA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Juliamay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A little OT, you can likely get the book as an audiobook from your library. He's the reader and is totally hilarious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. My apologies to all. This thread got started in 2010. On August 3, 2010, I quoted Anthony Bourdain from the same page of his "Kitchen Confidential," and then, four years later, completely forgot that I had done so and did it again. Then, after writing my comment today, I read through the comments and discovered my old quotation of Bourdain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good information always bears repeating!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You should put a reminder on your schedule now for 2018 to remind you not to post it again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. yeah... We beat this thread to death 3-1/2 years ago. Hopefully it won't happen again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I thought of and a chuckled at the memory of this tonight. I sauteed shallots, leeks, garlic and onions as the side dish tonight. So good and every vegetable contributed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          your bloodstream is herby declared "PURIFIED"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          that's what i always tell my husband when we eat a lot of onions. "it's good for your blood." i'm positive our friends in the allium family are God's good gift.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          an aside, but related to sautéed onions: i had sautéed some sliced red onions (leaving the sliced ring whole in the grill skillet), and had some leftovers that were room temp. i used them instead of raw red onion on a korean spinach salad. i will always use the grilled onion from now on -- so savory on that spinach salad! (look up korean spinach salad, and use fresh bean sprouts not canned).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, yay. Some part of me is pure anyway!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'll look up that recipe definitely. I'll frequently put leftover, grilled onions in an omelet with other stuff for breakfast. Or dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ETA: http://mykoreankitchen.com/2013/06/16...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Like this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              no, it is the community cookbook version of a "korean" spinach salad; they take liberties with assigning nationalities in those cookbooks. ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              it is a sweet/sour ketchup-soy(or worcestershire)-sugar-oil-vinegar-with-grated-onion dressing (i add sesame oil and garlic powder, too), blended in advance then poured onto baby spinach, sliced boiled eggs, sliced water chestnuts, fresh bean sprouts and fried, crumbled BACON!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              the dressing is along these lines (i can't find my recipe right now):
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/2 c. sugar or more
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 c. oil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (and/or soy sauce/sesame oil)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ⅓ c. ketchup (more or less)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ¼ c. vinegar (cider, rice wine or red wine vinegars would all be good)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 med. onion, grated (a sweet onion is nice)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Salt to taste (but i'd use soy sauce instead of salt)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i also add garlic powder to taste

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              you might want to play with the ratios to suit your tastes. in fact. last time i made it (in a dash, with a craving) i omitted the oil! so, i really think the oil can be dialed WAY back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              one tip: make in advance and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors bloom. it is really addictive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                WOW! That's WAY different than the one I linked to :) And sounds super. Soon. Thanks, a.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Most of the time, you won't be using as much as if using onion, so the price difference doesn't really matter much per meal. The taste is different, and the way the cook is slightly different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Try minced shallot added to couscous while it cooks, and you'll see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I like to get really large shallots and place one or two slices in each bowl of cream soups, quite a difference from doing the same thing with an onion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I use shallots when the recipe calls for them. Never buy as much as a pound at a time, that's way more than I'd ever use, I keep one or two of them around on general principles, and the price is trivial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. shallots are fantastic in homemade dressings. i'm with you on the price of shallots and to help with that, i already started planting them and will be staggering them throughout the year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: simplelife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wonder if anyone on this LONG thread has actually weighed what a 'serving' is and calculated the price. I bet it's really, really low.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Shallots are waste of money. Just give me an onion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I KNOW...I'M A PEASANT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You may or may not be a peasant :) but shallots and onions (and garlic and leeks) all have such different flavors. If I'm ready to cook and realize I don't have any shallot on hand, I'll use a little onion perhaps or leave it out entirely, but it's not the same dish then IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Only if you can not taste the difference.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I doubt your a Peasant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Eating Shallots has nothing to do with whether your a Farm Worker or if you are Educated. I bet French Peasants ate plenty of Shallots