Growing mainly in tropical regions, shallot originates from Central Asia. Its scientific name is Allium Cepa and it belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. The word ‘shallot’ refers to both the plant and its bulb, which is very popular in cooking. It is often nicknamed ‘green onion’ or ‘spring onion’ because it belongs to the same family as the onion and is harvested before it is ripe.
The shallot was brought back to the West in the time of the Franks at the end of the first Crusade. From the late 8th century and the early 9th century, the plant was used by Charles the Great. It then spread all around the world for various uses.
The plant’s distinguishing feature is its hollow, cylindrical leaves that form a clump. It is also a bulb with many growing points. Its seeds are black and small.
Shallot grows in friable and humus-rich soils and the plant can reach a height of 20cm to 1m. To grow, it needs exposure to sunlight and a warm climate. Shallot blooms in the summer and is harvested from July to August before it is fully ripe.
Dried shallot is used to season everyday dishes. It enhances the flavour of salads, tomatoes, vinaigrettes, meat, pasta and vegetables.
Shallot has a stronger flavour than onion, so it is also used in sauces and fish dishes.