Fried shallot is an essential ingredient to many Taiwanese dishes. It brings a special savory aroma to the dish that can't be replaced by any other thing. Its fragrance is like a concentrated version of the best part of that smell of onions browning on the skillet. In Taiwan, it's very easy to get a pack of fried shallot from the grocery store or marketplace. Sometimes they sell it in a jar with lard, which is widely used by Hakka people in much of their cuisine. When I was in college, one of my roommates who came from a Hakka family always had a jar of fried-shallot-lard in her fridge. Whenever she made noodles, she will add a spoon of it in her soup, and instantly the soup smelled fantastic!
It's not easy to find the crispy fried shallot here in the US, unless you can find them in a local Asian grocery store. It is very easy to get fresh shallots, though, so I always make my own fried shallots. Using homemade fried shallot also addresses any food safety concerns I may have with store bought versions, since I make it fresh with better quality oil. Plus, I end up with some shallot oil as well! Shallot oil can be incorporated in many types of stir-fries to add another dimension to the dish. Or, you can simply use it for making a bowl of quick and easy shallot oil noodle.
How to cut the shallot?
The most essential step of making crispy fried shallot successfully is cutting the shallots even and thin. Depending on what shape you prefer, you can cut it along the grain or against the grain. If you cut it along the grain (lengthwise), the final product will be straight and thin (and a better presentation, in my opinion). This is what I've done for you here. Otherwise, if you cut them against the grain (widthwise), you end up with curly and more irregularly shaped fried shallots. I will warn you though that cutting along the grain takes almost double the time when compared to cutting it against the grain, so you can decide what your preference is.
How do I know it's done frying?
The oil will begin to look like it's boiling when the water in the shallots come out. After a couple of minutes, the bubbling will subside and the bubbles will be much smaller. At this point, you will need to keep your eye on it. Once the shallots start to turn yellow, remove the pot from the heat, drain the shallot pieces, and lay the pieces out on a paper towel over a plate until cool. The shallots might not seem completely crispy at this point, but the high heat of the oil will continue to fry the shallots for a bit, turning the final product golden brown and crispy.
How to store the crispy shallot and shallot oil?
For the crispy shallot, if you will not finish it in the next couple of days, you'll want to store them in the fridge in an air tight container. For the shallot oil, I like to store it in the fridge in a glass jar.
Crispy Fried Shallots and Shallot Oil
- 2-3 fresh shallots
- 1 cup high smoke point oil, I use avocado oil
- pinch of salt
- Slice shallots even and thin (about ⅛ inch), you will get about 1 to 1½ cup of sliced shallot.
- Put shallot slices in a small pot, pour cold oil in the pot and turn on the heat to medium.
- Once it starts boiling, adjust the heat to medium low to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Cook just until most of the shallots turn yellow, then immediately remove the pot from the heat and drain the oil (save it for other usage).
- Lay the shallots on a paper towel over a plate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Once it's cool completely, it will become golden brown and crispy.
- Put the crispy shallot in an airtight container and the shallot oil in a glass jar and store them in the fridge.