Food for Thought – Shallots

Shallots are loved by foodies the world over for the beautiful flavours they grant dishes. They are related to onions and garlic and, like garlic, they also grow in clusters with a head of multiple cloves.

This root vegetable is named after Ashkelon, an ancient Palestinian city where it was thought to have originated, and it was then brought to its modern home, France, during the Last Crusade between 1271 and 1272.

Since it’s related to onions, a shallot can also make your eyes water when slicing. Enzymes in the shallot are released when the onion is cut, and they react with the rest of the shallot to release a gas. When combined with water, these enzymes form an acid, so when the gas comes into contact with your eyes, they burn.

Fortunately, a number of remedies have been proposed to avoid waterworks in the kitchen, some more straightforward than others. They range from simpler methods – such as storing your onion in the fridge, using a sharp knife, or breathing through your mouth – to more elaborate solutions, such as cutting your shallots underwater or near steam, to lighting a candle next to the chopping board and wearing goggles when wielding your knife.

You’ll find shallots on our menu in the Chalmar Ribeye with salt-baked onions, leeks, leek flowers, baby onions and lemon thyme oil. The shallots are scored and baked in the skin in coarse sea salt. The salt helps to draw out any bitter juices to produce a delicious, soft onion.