The shallot is a type of onion, specifically of the species Allium cepa. it is also closely related to Chinese onion, chives, garlic, and leek.
It is believed to have originated around Central or Southwest Asia with the name shallot coming from Ashkelon, an ancient Canaanite city. In Africa, shallots are primarily grown in the area around Anloga in Southeastern Ghana.
It is referred to as green onion in the regions around Quebec in Canada with several local names, especially in the Central and Southeast Asia regions.
The bulbs are formed in clusters of offsets with a head composed of multiple cloves.
The skin color varies from golden brown to rose red, While their flesh is usually off-white tinged with green or magenta.
The bulbs are characteristically less pungent than that onions and garlic.
Shallots are perennial plants though they can be grown annually too. The plant reaches about 50 cm in height and bears 1-5 cloves underneath the soil surface.
Fresh bulbs are available during the spring and early summer seasons. They can be purchased in stores and supermarkets in canned, fresh, frozen, pickled, powdered, and dehydrated forms.
Fresh shallot should be purchased having dry, thin, golden-brown, outer skin. Avoid those that have started sprouting, have bruises, cuts, and show signs of discolored mold.
The bulbs should also be firm when pressed and should feel heavy for their size.
At home, they should be stored in a cool dark place away from moisture and humid conditions. There, they will keep fresh for several days. If stored in a refrigerator they should be used once they are removed as they tend to spoil thereafter.
How to Use Shallot for Culinary Purposes
Trim the ends using a paring knife. Then peel the outer 2-3 layers of skin until you get to the inner shiny surface. Depending on the size of the shallot you can use them whole, halve them, or cut them into slices.
You follow the recipes to use in your cooking. Generally, they can be used fresh and uncooked in salads.
They can also be used in soups, stews, and sauces. They can also be used in vegetable dishes as well as meat, poultry, fish, and seafood dishes.
They can be used caramelized as garnishes in burgers and hotdogs. They are also an integral ingredient in pizza dishes, noodles, as well as pickling.
Generally, the shallot is more nutritious than onions of the same volume. They are better packed with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. They contain almost no fats and oils and have no cholesterol.
They contain decent amounts of B-complex vitamins most notably pyridoxine. It also has some amounts of folates, thiamin, and pantothenic acid. Also, trace amounts of niacin and riboflavin.
Shallot is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C.
You will find good amounts of potassium, copper, iron, and manganese in shallots. Also present is phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.