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Definition: shallot from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Small onion in which bulbs are clustered like garlic; it is used for cooking and in pickles. (Allium ascalonicum, family Liliaceae.)

Summary Article: Shallot
from The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

Like its cousin, the onion, the shallot originated in Western or Central Asia. Shallots are grown almost everywhere now, across Southeast Asia and Western Europe. Rather than being one bulb, like the onion, a shallot consists of a head of two or three individual bulbs or cloves. Their ski is generally coppery and the fine flesh flushed with fuchsia or bluish gray. In flavor, they are onion-like, although sweeter and more complex, but still pungent.


Fall and winter are the peak seasons for shallots. They should be firm and dry, with no soft spots, sprouting, or oniony smell.


Keep shallots in a cool, dark, dry basket with air circulation, never in the fridge, for up to 2 months.


Grate into salads, or finely slice to top sandwiches. Serve diced with pickled or creamed fish.


Roast whole, peeled shallots; braise for sauces; bake in a gratin; or sauté to glaze.


Pickle whole.

Flavor pairings

Mushrooms, red wine, parsley, sorrel, thyme.

Classic recipes

Béarnaise sauce; bordelaise sauce; beurre blanc .

French gray shallot

Beloved of chefs, the bulbs have an exceptional flavor—full-bodied, sweet, and piquant. They impart a rich, pervasive flavor to many classic French dishes.

Banana shallot

These juicy, single-cloved shallots, also called echalion shallots, provide sweet, subtle flavor to stews, braises, and soups. They are good halved lengthwise, then roasted or sautéed until golden.

Round red shallot

Though they resemble miniature onions, these shallots have a deliciously sweet, flowery flavor that does not overwhelm. They form a rich flavor base for numerous sauces.

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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