Known as hom jeow or hom daeng jeow in Thai, making fried shallots from scratch leaves you with another beautiful ingredient: nam man hom jeow (shallot oil). I wager you will be reluctant to reach for supermarket packs of fried onions again after you experience the homemade result.
Of all the homemade pantry staples I try to keep refreshed, these two (as well as crispy garlic and garlic oil) come near the top of the list. Toasty, aromatic shallot oil complements many dishes – try a little in your next salad, whisked through a simple tomato based pasta sauce, drizzled on a steaming bowl of miso soup, or blended with your mashed potato.
As for the shallots themselves, these caramelised strips are arguably the best universal topping for savoury (and sometimes even sweet) foods. Fried shallots can be found capping many a Thai and Burmese salad, including these pennywort and fresh pomelo salads. Fried shallots are also a necessary component in nam prik pao (Thai chili jam).
Crispy Fried Shallots & Shallot Oil
You can use any vessel to make deep fried shallots, but a wok is preferable as it provides plenty of space to vent the steam that comes out of the shallots as their moisture is released by frying. But the most important thing to keep in mind is oil temperature – the trick to making crispy fried shallots is a long, slow frying time that evenly cooks and caramelises the shallots.
- 150 grams (1 ½ cups) thinly sliced shallots
- 1 cup oil
- Line a plate with a few layers of kitchen roll.
- Heat the oil in a wok to medium heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Lower the heat to medium-low. Continue to fry, stirring every 30 seconds, until the shallots develop a golden brown colour (another 5-10 minutes). At this point they will burn quickly, so it's important to remove them from the oil immediately. Either use a spider to remove the shallots or pour the oil through a metal mesh strainer into a heat proof bowl.
- Once the oil is cool, pour it into a clean glass jar to store (if stored in a dark and cool cupboard, it will last a month or two). The shallots should also be stored in an airtight container, and will last for a couple of weeks.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Makes: about ¾ cup oil and ¾ cup fried shallot
- Cuisine: Thai, Burmese, and more