So often I come across recipes that call for shallots – a tablespoon here, a teaspoon there. And to be honest, for most of my cooking-life, I’ve just substituted red onions. The reason for this is sheer laziness and also the fact that I’m just cheap. Shallots can be pricey!
So anyway…shallots are more or less, a milder onion (google a better definition if you must). There are subs out there where you use a certain ratio of garlic to onion. I kind of say screw it to this idea and just use an onion (didn’t I just say I am lazy?). A long time ago, I heard that when you refrigerate an onion (like when you have a leftover half), it causes the onion to taste milder, hence more like a shallot. I’ve always bought into this idea since I almost always have a leftover onion on hand…whether or not it is really true…
Ok. There are a few applications where you really want to use an actual shallot and substitutes just won’t cut it:
1. In a sauce. Reason? Shallots break down and disintegrate into the sauce. Makes a smoother sauce. Don’t substitute here.
2. In a vinaigrette. Onions are just too overpowering. And the shallot sub is just too strong here too.
Extra tip: shallots are often way cheaper – and larger – at ethnic markets. I have no idea why. But load up when you are there.