Storified by ebanreb· Wed, Mar 27 2013 17:22:51
If you're wondering what is a shallot, you might like to have a look through a French cookbook. Shallots are a very common ingredient in French food where you'll find their mild oniony flavor used in a wide variety of dishes and sauces. Learn a little bit about shallots with these tips and then give them a try. You'll soon find them nearly as indispensable as onions in creating your favorite recipes(video recette beignet).
What Does a Shallot Look Like?
Shallots do come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but in general they are smaller than an onion. They might be purplish or rose, as well as white or grey in color. They are shaped similarly to a garlic clove, although larger. Like garlic, you may find them in a head, with several shallots attached together. In general, when a recipe calls for a shallot, they are referring to an individual "clove" of shallot and not an entire head.
Selecting and Storing Shallots
Shallots tend to be moister then onions and therefore more susceptible to mold and rotting. When buying this vegetable, you'll want to look carefully for any beginning signs of mold. The shallot should have a dry feel to it, but it certainly shouldn't be shriveled.
You'll want to store your shallots like onions, in a cool dark place. A basket on your pantry shelf should work fine. It is best not to store them closely packed, as any mold will spread quickly if they are touching.
Shallots are peeled similarly to an onion. Slice off the ends of the shallot, and then grab a hold of the thin skin and peel it back. In most French cooking the shallots are chopped more finely then an onion.
Cooking with Shallots
Although they are similar to an onion, there are some important differences in how shallots are used in French cooking.