2 articles Articles posted in garnishes

scallion oil

Scallion oil is one of those things that I hesitate to call a garnish, simply because it adds so much more than just a final flourish to a dish. I have a friend who loves this stuff so much that I always made sure I had some on hand when I knew she was coming over. She, like me, loved simply mixing it with white rice and then adding nuoc cham sauce. I’d usually serve this with grilled pork chop, but I don’t think she (or I) would’ve minded just having the rice.

In Vietnamese cuisine, scallion oil is often drizzled over rice, noodles, rice noodle sheets or rolls, and banh hoi or rice vermicelli sheets. It adds a fragrance and richness to the otherwise bland starch. Usually, nuoc cham dressing is also mixed in as well when the dish is served.

Scallion Oil
Makes about 1/4 cup

3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

Put the chopped scallions in a heatproof bowl. Heat the oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Test to see whether the oil is hot by dropping in a piece of chopped garlic or scallion and seeing if it sizzles. When hot, add the garlic (if using) and allow it to turn golden. After the garlic has turned golden, take the pan off the heat and immediately pour over the chopped scallions. The oil may splatter a little bit, so stand back. The scallions should sizzle and then wilt. Drizzle over rice, noodles, or noodle sheets. Keeps for about a week in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before serving.

fried shallots and fried shallot oil

Fried shallots are something I like to always have on hand. True, I could go to the store and pick up a container of fried red onion, which seems to have a never-ending shelf life, but it’s not hard to fry your own. I think you get something crisper, fresher, and also end up with flavored oil you can drizzle over dishes. It keeps well in the fridge too (I tend to keep mine for months… I have yet to find it’s gone bad, but you should probably use your own good judgment. :)

What do I use fried shallots for? (What do I not use them for…) They lend a nice depth of flavor, as well as a crispy texture (so long as you don’t let them sit too long and get soggy), to soups, congee, stir-fries, salads, noodle soups, meat dishes… I also like to drizzle fried shallot oil over soups or, well, practically anything.  Though I tend to use fried shallots more in Asian dishes, you can use them in Western-style casseroles, sauces, salads, or over steak too.

Fried Shallots and Fried Shallot Oil

I make this in large batches and store the fried shallots and the fried shallot oil separately so that the shallots retain their crisp. I’ve found they keep for a month or longer in the fridge.

oil (I usually use canola or vegetable, though another neutral-flavored oil would work as well)

1. Peel and thinly slice the shallots. The thinner you slice them, the more airy and light they will be once fried.

2. Lay the sliced shallots out onto a paper towel to rid them of excess moisture and to prevent clumping. Lay another pice of paper towel on top and gently dab to soak up moisture. Getting rid of the moisture results in more crispiness.

3. Pour just enough oil into the pan to coat the entire bottom of the pan. (The size of the pan doesn’t matter so long as you don’t overcrowd the pan when frying; it’s more an issue of how much oil you want to use up to fill a whole pan. I tend to use a smaller pan and fry in batches.) Heat oil over medium heat.

4. Add the shallots in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Spread them out in the oil to keep them from clumping. Shallots can turn from golden to brown very quickly, so keep an eye on them to prevent them from burning.

5. Once the shallots turn golden, lift them out of the oil with a slotted spoon or chopsticks and set on a plate lined with paper towel to drain off the excess oil. Repeat in batches until all shallots are fried.

6. Store fried shallots and fried shallot oil in separate containers in the fridge.

[Photo and recipe updated 8/12/14.]