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Old 02-01-2010, 10:30 PM   #1
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Why buy shallots?

I just made a pasta recipe that called for shallots. I never used them before, didn't know anything about them. They tasted just like an onion to me, I diced them up, why should I buy shallots that are about 5 times as expensive as onions? Am I missing something?

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Old 02-01-2010, 11:24 PM   #2
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Personally, I agree with you. But, Im sure others will come along and disagree with was

If there is a difference ( which im sure there is) it is subtle enough not to make any major difference in whatever recipe you are making. At least thats what Ive experienced.
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:29 PM   #3
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Can't disagree either.
Lucky me, I can get a 1 pound bag for $1.79 at my local Saigon Market, so I use them a lot, just because I like them. Sure, that's still expensive relatively speaking, but it's an indulgence.
They are the only onion family product that make my eyes water when chopping them!
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:48 AM   #4
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I don't get the difference either haha. xD
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:37 AM   #5
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Shallots have a milder, sweeter flavor than onions and have a little more tender texture due to their smaller size. Also, because they are smaller, it is easier to mince them thus adding a more subtle flavor, where as with onions you get more of a small dice due to the thickness of the rings of onion walls. So, shallots are used for sauces & preparations which require finesse. They are especially good for Beurre Blancs, mayo-based sauces, demi glace sauces, etc.

And onions are better where a more robust flavor is wanted, such as gravys, soups, roasts, etc. Shallots are not "better" than onions. It is more about the application and the end result you are trying to reach. If you want a "hint" of onion then use shallots. If you want a "big", robust flavor then add onions.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:13 PM   #6
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You really have to do a side by side taste test with a small recipe for a sauce or whatever to truly decide if the taste difference is worth the cost to you. Make the same recipe, once with onions and again with shallots and taste them side by side to decide.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:28 PM   #7
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Why buy shallots? Because they put you in jail if you steal them!
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:59 PM   #8
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a shallot bandit, lol. i don't see any advantage in buying them. a small onion will do the trick.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:44 AM   #9
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Shallots have a unique taste - different than onions - almost with a slight wine flavor (at least to my tastebuds). Some people liken them to a cross between garlic and onions.
I don't like them chopped, however, but prefer them thinly sliced, and either lightly browned or browned until crisp in extra virgin olive oil.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:47 AM   #10
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I do have a few recipes that call for shallots that just would not be the same with onions. Mostly, though, I would think you can sub one for the other. Since I can buy shallots loose at the farmstand for around $1.59 a pound I consider them an affordable treat.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:52 AM   #11
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Shallots, scallions, leeks, onions (red, white, yellow, sweet, pearl, cippoline) etc.....

All of these have similar flavor profiles, but also have subtle differences. While we all certainly produce fine dishes by substituting whichever we have on hand, the results will not be exactly the same. For example, the robustness of some onions would overpower the delicate flavors of the tarragon and butter in a bearnaise, while the more delicate flavor of a shallot complements it nicely. A shallot would get lost in a hearty chili or stew, while an onion is critical to its flavor.

If you're subbing strong onions for shallots, I'd use a little less than what's called for.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:52 AM   #12
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Cooked, they may not make that much of a difference. However, I use RAW shallots a lot and it makes a world of difference. Raw onion can be so overpowering, but shallots give a wonderful aroma of onion without knocking your senses for a loop.

In a recipe that has many ingredients and you are sweating the onions/shallots or cooking them for a long period, yeah, the flavor of onions turn rather mild and probably isn't worth it to use shallots instead, because it'll get lost.

A good test would be to make something like a Béarnaise Sauce. It has just a few ingredients and the mildness of the sauce will help you realize that in something like that, an onion would totally throw off the balance of flavors, whereas a shallot is perfect.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:53 AM   #13
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Silversage, I can't believe we posted at the exact same time and both used Béarnaise as an example. Great minds think alike.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Silversage, I can't believe we posted at the exact same time and both used Béarnaise as an example. Great minds think alike.



Or great cooks!!!!!

(I know, that sounds a little arrogant, but the line was just too good to pass up....sorry.)
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:48 AM   #15
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Just made some last nite.....Made lovely thick veal chops and the recipe suggested using roasted shallots as a side......Neither of us liked them at all....maybe I should have sprinkled a bit of balsamic on them....So, I shall use them now as I would garlic or sweet onion....
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesS View Post
Why buy shallots? Because they put you in jail if you steal them!
ROTFLMAO!

Seriously, some folks who cannot eat onions are just fine with shallots. They're a LOT milder than most onions, and altho they are cousins, they impart (imho) quite a different taste and feeling to a dish.
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:16 AM   #17
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I've found a big difference between different kinds of shallots. The big bulbed shallots I usually find at the grocery store are, to me, a glorified onion. But if you can find French shallots in small, firm bulbs, there will be a more remarkable difference. The rings are much smaller and the flavor is less bitter.
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Old 02-03-2010, 01:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vyapti View Post
I've found a big difference between different kinds of shallots. The big bulbed shallots I usually find at the grocery store are, to me, a glorified onion. But if you can find French shallots in small, firm bulbs, there will be a more remarkable difference. The rings are much smaller and the flavor is less bitter.
Just as there are many varieties of onion, there are many varieties of shallots. And there aren't any "French" shallots in US. they don't do well in our soil.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:29 PM   #19
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I find that they are (usually) more mild than a typical yellow onion, and their flavor profile includes more garlic.
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Old 04-07-2010, 10:59 AM   #20
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It's been my experience that shallots and white onions are pretty much interchangeable. I use only white onions when onions, or shallots are called for. Although they are always more expensive than the brown ones, I appreciate the more subtle onion flavor. For example, I like raw white onions in salad far better than even a red onion.
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