Crispy fried shallot oil (葱头油) is one of my favourite condiments which can be topped over almost any dish. I particularly love these fried shallots over plain porridge, fried rice or oyster sauce vegetables. I love them on its own as well – I can eat it as a snack. In my earlier attempts in deep frying the shallots, I burnt them, because I found out that even though deep frying shallots takes considerably longer than making garlic oil, the shallots go from light golden brown to golden brown really quickly. Hence you need to watch the flame very carefully especially during the second half of the cooking. Here is a step-by-step photo guide to show the various stages of cooking the shallots, but the actual timing will depend on the heat of your cooker. Generally, it takes about 12-15 minutes to cook the shallots.
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Peel shallots and if you rinse them before slicing, dab dry with a kitchen towel first. Slice thinly and uniformly to ensure even cooking.
Heat oil to medium. As you can see in the photo above, there are tiny bubbles which indicate that the oil is starting to be heated. You can add a small piece of shallot to test the heat before adding all of them.
When oil is heated, add sliced shallots. This is look of the shallots after adding them to the the oil for 1 minute. They are dancing and bubbling mildly in the oil so I turn up the heat up very slightly.
At the 10 minute mark of cooking, you can see parts of the shallots browning. At this point in time, you have to give the shallots your fullest attention (no multi-tasking) because they can become burnt quite quickly from this point on.
At this point in time (when the shallots start to brown), I add 1/2 tsp salt. The salt helps the shallots to be crispy and also adds flavour.
At this point in time, more than half the shallots have turned golden brown. This is where I turned off the stove – the shallots will continue for a few more minutes in the hot oil even with the stove heat off, until all the shallots turn a lovely golden brown.
When the fried shallots are cooked, separate the shallots from the oil using a slotted ladle. Blot out excess oil by draining the shallots on kitchen paper towels or tempura paper. Store the fried shallots in an airtight container in the fridge.
Run the shallot oil through a fine sieve to get particle-free oil. This oil has been infused with the wonderful aroma of shallots. Keep it covered with lid and use it in your cooking and stir-fries – it adds a great flavour to your cooking.