The shallot is a variety of onion, much smaller than the common red onion. Like other regular varieties of onions, the shallot is a member of the genus, Allium and the family Alliaceae. However, a subtle difference exist between regular onions and shallots, and this difference is all about flavor. Shallots typically have a mild flavor, which is somewhere in between the flavor of onion and garlic. They do not taste exactly like regular onions. They add a sweet and mild flavor to the dish to which they are added, for which they are a favorite among chefs and food lovers across the world.
More About Shallots
Shallots are small and elongated onions, covered with a reddish or gray-colored skin. The flesh is off-white with a green tinge. There are basically two different species of shallots - Allium oschaninii, which is also known as the French gray shallot or 'griselle', and Allium cepa var. aggregatum. Allium oschaninii is the species that is generally considered as true shallots. In Australia, the term shallot is used to refer to scallion, while the actual shallots are called 'eschalot'. Though shallots are basically onions, they grow in clusters.
Their flavor is slightly garlicky, and somewhat sweeter or milder than common onions. They can be a bit expensive in certain parts of the world, including the United States. They are generally used in cooking, besides being pickled. Apart from being a good food, these small onions can have some important health benefits, as they contain more organic compounds like phenols and flavonoids than other types of onions. These organic compounds, especially the flavonoids are known for their antioxidant activity. They can minimize the damaging effects of free radicals on body cells and tissues.
Substitutes for Shallots
Small White or Red Onions
In most places, shallots are available throughout the year. But still, you might be in need of some good shallot alternatives at times. The first option for you is the small white or red onion. However, both white and red onions cannot impart the mild garlicky flavor that shallots add to a dish. To solve this problem, you can add a small amount of crushed garlic to the dish, along with the onions. Generally, 1 small or medium-sized onion is equivalent to almost 3 shallots, which should be kept in mind while substituting one for the other.
The next vegetable that you can use to substitute shallots is green onion or scallion. It is also known by the names of spring onion, onion sticks, or salad onions. Scallions have a milder flavor than onions, and they are excellent for salads, soups, and seafood dishes. Scallions are widely used in many Asian recipes. A scallion has a white base that lacks fully developed bulbs, while the upper portion is hollow and green in color. While substituting shallots with green onions, use only the white portion. The green portion of the scallions can be used to substitute chives.
The flavor of the dish prepared with a shallot substitute will slightly differ, as none of the aforementioned substitutes can completely replicate the typical flavor of shallots.