This is an easy, quick way to make a condiment that has big impact. I use the same recipe with small purple onions for garnish for steaks and hot dogs. I use the shallots on smoked salmon and cream cheese crackers for breakfast, on omelets, sandwiches, and they are great on burgers or with grilled meats and sausages. Mince and add to tuna salad or scatter on top of salads.
Think of them as you would capers for more ideas. These can be made in minutes and will keep 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator. Since these are not a true pickle, the shallot rings will not store for long times nor should they be left unrefrigerated too long.
12 oz. shallots (medium sized ones, around 1 1/2 – 2 inch diameter are easiest to use), peeled
1 scant tablespoon coarse kosher salt, or some other coarse grained sea salt
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup heaping granulated sugar
Slice the root end and the tip end off, and then slice the shallots into rings around 1/16th of an inch. (You can use a sharp thin bladed knife, but I prefer a Ben-Riner* mandoline/fixed blade slicer.)
In a non-reactive bowl, carefully break up the shallot slices into rings and then sprinkle enough of the salt to lightly coat all the pieces. Allow the onion rings to rest until starting to soften a little, around 5-10 minutes.
While the shallots are bathing in the salt, mix the sugar and vinegar together. You can do this in a jar or a non-reactive bowl with a whisk. Mix until the sugar is no longer visible. Taste the solution for balance – it should be neither very sweet nor too tart. Adjust with vinegar or sugar as needed.
After 5 minutes, feel the shallots, they should no longer feel brittle and will have softened a little. If not, leave a few more minutes. When ready, have a fine meshed strainer ready and rinse the shallot rings in the bowl with cool water, pouring out the water until the shallots no longer feel salty. Taste one to be sure you have rinsed away the excess salt. A little salty taste to the shallot is fine, but you do not want to taste salt on the outside of the ring or a lot of salt. Shake the shallot rings to shed as much water as you can, then roll them in paper towels to blot more water.
When the shallots are fairly dry, add to the “pickling” mix. You want to have the shallots below the surface of the liquid. The shallots will soften a bit and will seem to shrink a little. This is fine.
The shallots should be ready to use within 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
YIELD: 1 1/2 cups
You can re-use the liquid one time, or take some out and add sliced cucumbers to the liquid and quickle some sliced cukes to go with the onions for an easy side salad with big flavor and crunch.
*The Ben-Riner is a fairly inexpensive Japanese mandoline that comes in two widths. They are also equipped with three “combs” that can be fitted for producing shreds that are more defined than a grater will produce. The combs give shreds that are similar to fettucine, spaghetti, and capellini, and you can adjust the thickness of the shreds as well. This gadget is well worth the investment as it can really save time and allows for some fun experimentation. Look for them in Japanese grocery and hardware stores, and kitchen supply shops.
SOURCE: Chef Andrew Cohen