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Shallot

Shallot

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The shallot is the botanical variety of Allium cepa to which the multiplier onion also belongs. It was formerly classified as the species A. ascalonicum, a name now considered a synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

 of the correct name
Correct name (botany)
In botany, the correct name according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is the one and only botanical name that is to be used for a particular taxon, when that taxon has a particular circumscription, position and rank. Determining whether a name is correct is a complex procedure...

. In Australia, the term "shallot" can also refer to scallion
Scallion
Scallions , are the edible plants of various Allium species, all of which are "onion-like", having hollow green leaves and lacking a fully developed root bulb.-Etymology:The words...

s, while the term eschalot is used to refer to the shallot described in this article. The term "shallot" is further used for the French gray shallot or griselle, Allium oschaninii, a species growing wild from Central
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 to Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwest Asia or Southwestern Asia are terms that describe the westernmost portion of Asia. The terms are partly coterminous with the Middle East, which describes a geographical position in relation to Western Europe rather than its location within Asia...

, which has been considered to be the "true shallot" by many, and to the Persian shallot, A. stipitatum
Allium stipitatum
Allium stipitatum is a species of Allium . The epithet stipitatum means 'with a little stalk' . Some sources regard A. hirtifolium as the same species, others treat A. stipitatum and A. hirtifolium as similar but separate species. Treating them as the same, A...

, from the Zagros mountains
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

.

Details


Shallots probably originated in Central or Southeast Asia, traveling from there to India and the eastern Mediterranean. The name "shallot" comes from Ashkelon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

, an ancient Philistine city, where people in classical Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 times believed shallots originated.

Like garlic
Garlic
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent...

, shallots are formed in clusters of offsets
Offsets
In botany and horticulture Offset is a term used to describe a small virtually complete daughter plant that has been naturally asexually produced on the mother plant. They are clones , meaning that they are genetically identical to the mother plant. In the plant nursery business and gardens they...

 with a head composed of multiple cloves. Their skin color can vary from golden brown to gray to rose red, and their off-white flesh is usually tinged with green or magenta. Shallots are popular with gourmets.

As a variety of onion
Onion
The onion , also known as the bulb onion, common onion and garden onion, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion The onion...

, shallots taste somewhat like a common onion, but have a milder flavor. They can be stored for at least six months.

Shallots are extensively cultivated for use in fresh cooking, in addition to being pickled
Pickling
Pickling, also known as brining or corning is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine to produce lactic acid, or marinating and storing it in an acid solution, usually vinegar . The resulting food is called a pickle. This procedure gives the food a salty or sour taste...

. Finely sliced, deep-fried
Deep frying
Deep frying is a cooking method in which food is submerged in hot oil or fat. This is normally performed with a deep fryer or chip pan; industrially, a pressure fryer or vacuum fryer may be used....

 shallots are used as a condiment
Condiment
A condiment is an edible substance, such as sauce or seasoning, added to food to impart a particular flavor, enhance its flavor, or in some cultures, to complement the dish. Many condiments are available packaged in single-serving sachets , like mustard or ketchup, particularly when supplied with...

 in Asian cuisine
Asian cuisine
Asian cuisine styles can be broken down into several tiny regional styles that have roots in the peoples and cultures of those regions. The major types can be roughly defined as East Asian with its origins in Imperial China and now encompassing modern Japan and the Korean peninsula; Southeast Asian...

 (often eaten with porridge).

Shallots are propagated by offsets
Offsets
In botany and horticulture Offset is a term used to describe a small virtually complete daughter plant that has been naturally asexually produced on the mother plant. They are clones , meaning that they are genetically identical to the mother plant. In the plant nursery business and gardens they...

. In some regions, these are recommended to be planted in autumn in "long season areas" (e.g. September or October in the Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

); in other regions, the suggested planting time for the principal crop is early spring (e.g. February or the beginning of March in the Northern Hemisphere). In planting, the tops of the bulbs should be kept a little above ground, and it is a commendable plan to draw away the soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

 surrounding the bulbs when their roots have taken hold. They should not be planted on ground recently manure
Manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

d. They come to maturity in summer (about July or August in the Northern Hemisphere), although they can now be found year-round in supermarkets.

Similar to onions, raw shallots release chemicals that irritate the eye
Human eye
The human eye is an organ which reacts to light for several purposes. As a conscious sense organ, the eye allows vision. Rod and cone cells in the retina allow conscious light perception and vision including color differentiation and the perception of depth...

 when sliced, resulting in tears. See onion for a discussion of this phenomenon.

Shallots appear to contain more flavonoid
Flavonoid
Flavonoids , are a class of plant secondary metabolites....

s and phenols
Polyphenol
Polyphenols are a structural class of natural, synthetic, and semisynthetic organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units...

 than other members of the onion family.

The term "French shallot" has also been used for Allium oschaninii.

There is a very specific region of shallot gardening in southeastern Ghana.

Shallots in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking


Indian names are kanda or gandana (Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

, Marathi, Marwari and Punjabi), gundhun (Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

), pallari vengayam (Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

) and cheriya ulli or chuvanna ulli (Malayalam
Malayalam language
Malayalam , is one of the four major Dravidian languages of southern India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India with official language status in the state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry. It is spoken by 35.9 million people...

). The distinction between onion and shallot is weak in Indian cuisine; larger varieties of shallot are often confused with small red onions and used interchangeably. Indeed, most parts of India use the regional name for onion interchangeably with shallot (Maharashtra, for instance, where both are called kanda). The southern regions of India distinguish shallots from onions in recipes more often, especially the much loved tiny varieties (about the width of a finger); these are widely used in salads, curries and different types of sambhar. Shallots picked in red vinegar are common in many Indian restaurants, served along with the sauces and papad
Papadum
Papadum, also known as papad in Northern India, , pappadam in Malayalam, happala in Kannada, appalam in Tamil, appadum in Telugu, pappadum or poppadom in the UK, is a thin, crisp Indian preparation sometimes described as a cracker. It is typically served as an accompaniment to a meal in India...

 on the condiments tray. Indians also use it as a home remedy for sore throats, mixed with jaggery or sugar.

Shallots are called bawang merah kecil (small red onions) in Malay
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

, brambang in Java, and hom (หอม, fragrant) in Thai. In Cambodian (Khmer), it is called katem kror hom, where katem or ktem is a species of onion, and kror hom or hom meaning "red", describes its color. In Southeast Asian cuisines
Asian cuisine
Asian cuisine styles can be broken down into several tiny regional styles that have roots in the peoples and cultures of those regions. The major types can be roughly defined as East Asian with its origins in Imperial China and now encompassing modern Japan and the Korean peninsula; Southeast Asian...

, such as Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines, both shallots and garlic (bawang putih, white onions) are very often used as elementary spices. Raw shallot can also accompany cucumbers when pickled in mild vinegar solution.It is also often chopped finely, then fried until golden brown, resulting in tiny crispy shallot chips called bawang goreng (fried onions) in Indonesian language, which can be bought ready-made from groceries and supermarkets. It enhances the flavor of many Southeast Asian dishes, such as fried rice
Fried rice
Fried rice is a popular component of Asian cuisine, especially Chinese food. It is made from steamed rice stir-fried in a wok, often with other ingredients such as eggs, vegetables, and meat. It is sometimes served as the penultimate dish in Chinese banquets...

 variants. Crispy shallot chips are also used in southern Chinese cuisine. In Indonesia, sometimes it is made into pickle
Pickle
Pickling is a process of preserving food. Pickle or pickling may refer to:-Food:* Pickled cucumber* Pickled onion* Pickled herring* Indian pickle includes oil-based food preservation* Branston and similar sweet pickle relishes...

 which is usually added in several traditional foods. Its sourness is thought to increase one's appetite.

In Nepal, it is called chyapi (छ्यापी) and is used in as one of the ingredients for making momo.