Shallots belong to the onion family, but are generally smaller and sweeter than traditional cooking onions. Owing to their mild flavour, shallots are a common ingredient in the vinaigrettes, soups, stews and sauces of French cuisine. They can be used the same way as onions, cooked and added to gravies or consumed raw in salads. Shallots must be properly peeled before they are used as a food ingredient.
Separate the bulbs of the shallot by pulling them apart if they are joined together. The bulbs should be separated from each other and individually peeled. Shallots sometimes grow in clusters like the bulbs of garlic and what seems like a single shallot may actually hold multiple shallots.
Place the shallot on a cutting board and hold it firmly with your fingers. Carefully slice off the hairy, root end with a knife.
Start peeling the shallot from the stem end and not the root end. Use your fingers to pull the thin, papery skin away from the shallot. Peel lengthwise, in a downward direction until you remove the skin completely from the shallot. You can also use a knife instead of your fingers to carefully peel the shallot.
Peel the shallots more easily and quickly if you plan to slice or chop them after peeling. Cut the shallot into half lengthwise, starting from the stem tip right down through the root end. Use either your fingers or a knife to peel the individual halves of the shallot.
Blanch whole shallots to loosen the skin and easily peel them. Fill a vessel with boiling water and soak the shallots for 1 minute. Discard the hot water, run cold water over the shallots, drain and peel.
Ensure that you do not cut too deeply into the root end of the shallot while peeling. The root holds the shallot together and makes it easier to slice the shallot -- preventing individual layers from falling off.