Fried shallots are crisp, salty and sweet, and a perfect garnish for rich smoked salmon. An alternative is to caramelize the shallots. While not as crisp, they will be equally sweet.
- Peanut oil for frying or butter for sauteing
- 4 to 6 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For fried shallots: In a deep pan, pour enough peanut oil to reach a depth of 2 inches and heat to 325 degrees (until it is hot but not smoking, and a single shallot slice dropped into the pan begins to sizzle immediately). Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, add half of the thinly sliced shallots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. Watch carefully; they brown quickly.
For caramelized shallots: In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt a few tablespoons of butter. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, add half of the thinly sliced shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Using a fork or a metal slotted spoon, transfer the fried or caramelized shallots to a plate lined with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly.
Adapted from "Smoked Salmon," by Max Hansen and Suzanne Goldenson (Chronicle, 2003).
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