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shallots

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I have recipe calling for 1/2 shallot. Does that mean 1/2 a whole shallot or 1/2 one clove?

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  1. A shallot consists of several cloves. 1/2 shallot should mean 1/2 of the entire shallot, otherwise it should read "1/2 shallot clove".

    1. does it mean a big shallot or a small one? and if using half a clove, do you use the smaller one or the larger?

      Use what feels reasonable to you. When a recipe calls for 1/2 shallot, it just means they want just a hint of the shallot flavor. This is where your judgement comes into play. You probably wouldn't even notice if you omitted the shallot entirely.

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        Shallots, like garlic, can vary so in size. Most of our garlic was large cloved and then suddenly all there was were small cloved. Same goes with shallot some times. Have to admit I rarely measure ingredients like this and half the time can't because of measurements like in the OP recipe. I figure if that don't provide a specific amount--such as 1 T.--then it's not critical.

      2. Questions like this are why recipes are a serious impediment to the skills of the homecook.

        14 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Just because the recipe is vague doesn't mean it can't be helpful. Maybe the homecook would not have considered using shallot without having it introduced through the recipe. Now he/she can get to know shallots and decide what is the right amount for his/her palate.

          1. re: escondido123

            Recipes stifle creativity and imagination. It makes the notion of an intrepid homecook a near anachronism.

            One does not need a recipe to be exposed to shallots, and how they can be used in cooking.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              For some people, unfamiliar ingredients can be intimidating and if a recipe can help ease the way I see no problem with it. I know some cooks who always work from recipes and their food can be good or bad depending on the recipe. I also know one cook who refuses to use recipe for much the same reason you have stated and his repertoire is sadly small because he only works with the ingredients he "knows." Too bad, because he could be a much better cook. For me, recipes allow me to replicate a dish that turned out very well without having to depend on my memory--otherwise I have been known to forget an ingredient until I sit down, look at the plate and say "damn, I forgot the XXXXXXXX."

              1. re: ipsedixit

                "Recipes stifle creativity and imagination" Oh yes; how I love that phrase. Of course, I admit that recipes are often critical for the novice cook who certainly needs some experience before venturing out on their own, but at some point a recipe becomes little more than an idea upon which to build your own creative food experiences.

              2. re: escondido123

                A recipe saying "use half a shallot" is not a vague recipe.

                1. re: Harters

                  I assume it was 'vague to the OP or there would have been no need to ask the question, no? And if I was unfamiliar with shallots and the one at the store was two shallots with one root I can see how it might be confusing.

                  1. re: Harters

                    This post reminded me of when my brother--who has never really learned how to cook-- decided to make something for a potluck. The recipe said one clove of garlic, chopped. He thought that meant the whole head. Don't know what the dish was, but the garlic was used raw.....not a very popular dish. So what's crystal clear to some of us ain't necessarily so for everyone.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  happens with the use of corn off the husk too.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I am new to shallots so I am unsure how much to use. Guess experimenting is what creates good cooks. I am going to experiment.

                    1. re: randyjl

                      Yes, please *do* experiment. It's what makes cooking so enjoyable.

                      If you do experiment I have no doubt you'll discover talents hidden within you that you've never known existed.

                      Good luck.

                      1. re: randyjl

                        randyj, I think you make a good point about being new to an ingredient called for in a recipe. And, sometimes the ingredient is precise and sometimes it's a matter of personal taste. Shallots are a delicious ingredient; especially sauted. Experimenting is the name of the game! I ran into a recipe calling for corn off the husk and had to determine the recipe was asking for about 4 large husks-worth. Not earth shattering but I did need to determine what was enough thru trial and error.

                        1. re: randyjl

                          Some talk of shallots as between onions and garlic in pungency and size. Others seem to use them as a more refined version of onion. I often stock them (if the price is reasonable) just to have a smaller onion on hand, for a dish with just a few servings.

                          By the way, was your recipe for a salad? That's the first thing that comes to mind when someone wants to use just a small amount - finely minced and added to the dressing.

                          1. re: paulj

                            I use a microplane and just fine grate shallots into eggs, dressing, saute spinach. They are handy!

                          2. re: randyjl

                            Congrats randyjl - you're on the road to recovery. When you've got the courage to experiment and grow from the experience you're on your way to becoming an accomplished culinary artist.