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Friday, November 23, 2012

Homemade Crispy Fried Shallots 香酥红葱头油

Sweeter and milder than onions, shallots are often indispensable in an Asian kitchen. They are the essentials when it comes making making certain marinades, curry pastes, sauces and the various kinds of sambal, not forgetting its role as the very basic component to define certain dishes. Just like the garlic and ginger, shallot is what I personally think of as something elementary hardly substitutable with any others. Onions? Probably yea in some ways, but definitely not in others. They may give you a similar texture almost comparable between the two, but there always will be the fragrant exlusively coming from the shallots that will be slightly missing in the end. And very much thanks to their extraordinarily sweet nature, shallots make an awesome garnishing when thinly sliced and fried to perfect crispness. This is definitely one of the many popular garnishes that I easily adore.

It took me more than a single or a couple of trials before I was convinced that mine actually looked somewhat presentable and acceptable. From choosing the good shallots to begin with, rinsing and draining, slicing all the way to frying them up in the end, each comes with its own challenges needing a little more than just some tender light care to make it right. Making fried shallots generally takes a little more time than frying the other aromatics like the garlic and ginger, but fried shallot are good to be kept up to a week when store appropriately. So despite the little hassle, you will be rewarded with something that will keep you going for at least a little while. They are good to go with plenty dishes - the fried rice, fried noodles, bowl of noodle soups, steamed rice noodles rolls 猪肠粉 or some snacks even like the steamed yam cake 芋头糕. They simply really do make everything better. And a last note - as precious as these shallot crisps are, the resulting shallot oil makes an extraordinarily good essence on its own with an infused natural fragrance. Have them substituting the cooking oil or drizzle lightly over some dishes and you will be surprised with how it gives yet another dimension to the dishes, accentuating their flavor and taste easily. 

Homemade Crispy Fried Shallots 香酥红葱头油
1lb shallots
1 tsp salt
enough oil for deep frying the shallots


1. Peel, trim and rinse the shallots whole. Let dry thoroughly on a paper towel.

2. Have the shallots sliced. It matters not whether they are sliced crosswise or lengthwise, but it is a point worth noting not to have them sliced too thinly - they have a higher chance of getting burnt too quickly. Having an even thickness throughout the whole batch will be a plus here - they will all cook at the same time and you won't end with a batch of fried shallots with different color hues.

3. Heat up a wok with enough oil for deep frying the whole batch. Put it on high heat. Make sure that the oil well heated. Have it tested with a wooden chopstick. If the oil is ready, a stream of tiny bubbles will be seen when one end of the chopstick is dipped into the hot oil.

4. Turn the heat to medium. Add in the sliced shallots. be careful with a tiny volvano eruption as the shallot slices hit the oil. Distribute evenly around the wok. Leave undisturbed most of the time, giving it a brief stir only every few minutes. Below shows how they look like at different stages.
At 10th minute

 At 20th minute

At 25th minute
At 28th minute

6. When the shallots look this brown, do note that the rest of the event will take place in the speed of a lightning. Scatter in a tsp of salt and be sure to keep a close eye on it hereon.

7. When the shallots appear golden brown about 80-90% on the whole, turn off the heat. The remaining heat retained on the stovetop and the oil will keep it heated through to gently bring the fried shallot to a good finishing color.
8. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve, retaining the oil in a bowl for future uses.

9. Rest the shallots on the sieve for a moment to drip off any remaining oil.

10. Transfer and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Try to do this on a plate with a good surface area to minimize overlapping. Leave air dry to crisp them up further while they cool down.

11. Once cooled down enough, store in a container. They are good at room temperatures for at least another five days.

The timeline here may not be similarly applicable to everyone. It very much depends on the amount of shallots made with each batch, the heat applied, how thin or thick they are sliced and to some extents the type of skillet or wok used. So pay attention to the physical change - how soon and whether the color changes evenly on the whole are both good indications whether or not the right heat is being used. And this probably is one of those moments when you have go according to your instinct to get things right.


  1. i found that soaking the shalllot in a salt brine woul crisp up the shallot well.....
    u should try that

    1. interesting. would you soak them when they have been all sliced up prior to deep frying?


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