I suppose it was a loaded question to ask my husband, “should I make these crispy shallots the healthy way or the good way?” But I was hungry, and we say dumb things when we’re hungry.
What I should have asked was, “should I make a snack or a meal?” Because it’s not that one way of making crispy shallots is better than the other, it’s all about what texture you’re in the mood to crunch on. The little buggers can be as light and ethereal as a bowl of whisper-thin potato chips or as substantially satisfying as a basket of fried shrimp, depending on how you prepare them.
(And yes, one way involves pan-frying, but I won’t make you bust out the deep fryer right now. If you’re still hesitant to heat up some cooking oil and get your fry on, consider this recipe your baby-steps introduction to the not-so-terrifying world of frying food.)
Either way, you’ll start by letting the shallots luxuriate in a buttermilk bath overnight, just like Cleopatra. Once the lactic acid has worked its magic, softening the bite of the shallots’ flavor and bringing flavor to the eventual batter, it’s time to choose the shallots’ final form.
For a full-meal basket of crispy shallots, they’ll be breaded and baked, the same way as you would prepare a chicken cutlet or fish fillet, but, you know, vegetarian. With a craggy coating of buttermilk batter and panko, each shallot ring becomes a poppably crisp bite. Dip them in BBQ or ranch sauce as a game-watch snack, toss them in a salad in place of grilled chicken, or float a few on top of your tomato soup or chower to boost your lunch.
For a snappy, crispy appetizer or garnish, the buttermilk-and-flour-battered rings go directly into hot oil for a sizzling finish. Who can resist that shatteringly flaky crunch? These shallots are my husband’s favorite way to top a cheeseburger, but they’ll work just as well on top of a crab cake or salmon burger. Or take a cue from the wedge salads in these photos and pair with the crunch of iceberg lettuce and crisp bacon.
So both methods, really, are the so-called “good” way to make crispy shallots. What are you in the mood for? There’s no wrong answer.
To fry the shallots:
To bake the shallots: