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randyjl Jun 16, 2012 08:53 AM

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. todao RE: randyjl Jun 16, 2012 09:03 AM

    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. paulj RE: randyjl Jun 16, 2012 09:56 AM

      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
        escondido123 RE: paulj Jun 16, 2012 11:47 AM

        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. ipsedixit RE: randyjl Jun 16, 2012 12:11 PM

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

        14 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit
          escondido123 RE: ipsedixit Jun 16, 2012 12:19 PM

          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
            ipsedixit RE: escondido123 Jun 16, 2012 12:27 PM

            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
              escondido123 RE: ipsedixit Jun 16, 2012 12:57 PM

              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
                todao RE: ipsedixit Jun 16, 2012 03:47 PM

                "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
                Harters RE: escondido123 Jun 16, 2012 02:53 PM

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

                1. re: Harters
                  escondido123 RE: Harters Jun 16, 2012 02:59 PM

                  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
                    escondido123 RE: Harters Jun 16, 2012 06:07 PM

                    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
                  HillJ RE: ipsedixit Jun 16, 2012 12:22 PM

                  happens with the use of corn off the husk too.

                  1. re: HillJ
                    randyjl RE: HillJ Jun 16, 2012 12:25 PM

                    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
                      ipsedixit RE: randyjl Jun 16, 2012 12:31 PM

                      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
                        HillJ RE: randyjl Jun 16, 2012 01:45 PM

                        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
                          paulj RE: randyjl Jun 16, 2012 01:45 PM

                          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
                            HillJ RE: paulj Jun 16, 2012 01:49 PM

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

                          2. re: randyjl
                            todao RE: randyjl Jun 16, 2012 03:48 PM

                            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.

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