Sunday, August 09, 2020

Shoutout to substitute for garlic allergy

Shallots fresh and dried
Shallots, two ways 
Hello there, it's been a while. So much while, that for a year I neglected to notice that my website name had expired and someone tried to ransom and sell it back to me for....$3000. Not kidding. (They even thoughtfully offered to let me make payments! Um, no.) If you've followed me over the years and you've found me again, thank you for your patience. You'll see that I got a new domain name by just adding the "the" in and we're back in business.

Here's the short version of what I've been doing for five years if you care--pretend it's the movie montage section where time goes really fast! 

Got laid off, started a K-12 education technology startup for three years (investor pitches, competitions, Silicon Valley, the works) then ran out of money, nearly went bankrupt, my car broke down so I had none for six months, taught cooking classes for a year, sold my condo, and am now working at a global tech company. Whew. So managing my food allergies during this crazy time has been a back burner item and I basically kept eating/making the same faves over and over. So much so that my startup business partner knew how to order my Food Allergy Queen lunch order, complete with all my requests for condiments on the side for me to manage mystery ingredients. :)

So today's topic--shallots! Prior to my food allergy diagnosis, I LOVED LOVED LOVED garlic. I would happily eat those whole roasted bulbs of delicious garlic on toast and call it a meal. Order extra Lebanese white garlic paste from Zankou Chicken in Los Angeles. Garlic went into everything, so much so that I would usually double the amount called for in a recipe. Until I was diagnosed with a garlic allergy. GARLIC allergy. One of my true loves. It felt like such a betrayal. (Ok a little dramatic, but you get the idea of how much I loved it.)

For a while I went garlic-less. It was a sad time. I doubled the onions everywhere but it wasn't the same level of piqant and pungent flavor of garlic. Then I remembered that shallots have a flavor that's in between onions and garlic...and voila! It was similar enough from a flavor profile that it was a mild garlic-like flavor. Buttery and a little more delicate, but still can be robust enough rather than just using onions only.

Botanically, shallots are an offshoot of the onion family. 

Onion (and shallots): Allium cepa 

          Garlic: Allium staivum 

Interestingly, even though both garlic and onions are alliums, I am NOT allergic to onions. (And I know people who are the other way around--allergic to onions but not garlic--it's a mystery.) For me personally, I usually try to skip the botanical family of my allergen altogether--e.g. for salads I avoid all lettuces but eat arugula and spinach, which are a different family. But here I make the exception after some cautious trial periods.

Warning: if you have allergies for alliums, proceed with caution. Your experience may be vastly different from mine.

Uses: I use the dried versions from Penzeys when I need that garlicky "background" flavor. In soups, stews, etc. For fresh dishes like over fish or steak, I dice the fresh just like I did with garlic--saute and brown for carmelization. Because the taste is way milder than regular garlic, I usually sub 2x the amount of garlic requested as long as it doesn't impact the volume too much. 

As you can see from the nearly empty bag, I rely on them a lot. Hope you enjoy them as well. 

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