Echalions AKA Banana Shallot

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I was very exciting when I found this shallots in local supermarket and it is rare! It also known as Echalions, Shallot Figaro, or scientific name Allium cepa of Aggregatum Group. Commonly know as Banana Shallot.

Echalion taking Britain’s kitchens by storm.  This versatile British vegetable, which is a cross between an onion and a shallot, has become the darling of professional kitchens, celebrities chef all over the country because it is so easy to prepare.  And now the secret is out and echalions have found their way onto our supermarket shelves.

They are easier to peel than a traditional shallot. Echalion is the result of a subtle mixture of the intrinsic qualities of the onion and the shallot. From each one, the Echalion has retained only best qualities. These large, oval bulbs have amber-coloured skin that can be peeled back to reveal juicy, white meat that combines the ease of an onion with the sweet, subtle flavour of a shallot.

Top Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, chef/patron of Restaurant Tom Aikens in London explains: “The versatile Echalion can add a subtle hint of flavour or be the main ingredient for any recipe calling for shallots. They are perfect for braising with meats, roasting with vegetables or with soups. Finely chop and add to broths and sauces, or sauté with mushrooms”, says Tom

British grown echalions are usually available from September to Mid-May.  They are grown in the Eastern counties of Britain (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk) where the sandy soil and warmer temperatures provide the ideal growing conditions.

There is no particular reason why you can’t use the banana shallots instead of onions, though they are not a substitute for red onions. You may also find that you need 2 banana shallots instead of a regular onion due to the size difference and milder taste. However they are more expensive than onions and if a strong allium taste is required then you may prefer to use regular onions. You can also substitute banana shallots with regular shallots – just use 2 regular shallots for 1 banana shallot, and do cook slightly more quickly than regular white or yellow onions.

To make it easy to peel, you could cut the root end off and blanche in boiling water for 3 minutes then grip firmly from the ‘leaf-end’ and squeeze the shallot out of its skin – holding with a cloth helps.

Pea Soup (Potage Saint-Germain)

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Potage St-Germain, my easy supper when I need some push in the evening. It is creamy and thick, but I used pancetta as topping instead of  cheese and crouton. This recipe you could easily serve for four people.

  1. If you topping with pancetta, dry pan fry the pancetta in medium heat until is golden brown and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the stock, peas, sugar and salt and pepper to taste and bring to the boil, uncovered. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the peas are very tender.
  3. Strain the peas and reserve the cooking liquid. Processs the peas in a food processor or blender, then return the purée to the pan. Gradually stir in the cooking liquid until you have the desired consistency.
  4. Reheat the soup. Stir in the crème fraîche and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately with blue cheese and croutons (pancetta) sprinkled over.

This are one of the everyday cooking, or as a starter for a party. I think kids will like it too when their sort of refuse to eat their green. Bon appetit!