The essential ingredient in this seafood dressing recipe is the shallot oil. I always like to have some in my refrigerator. The day I make it I use the crispy shallots as a garnish for anything from Vietnamese salads to steak to mashed potatoes. The oil will keep for weeks in the refrigerator and can add much flavor to a sauté, a marinade, or a dressing.
Shallot oil and crispy shallots
3 cups peanut oil or neutral tasting oil like canola or rice bran oil
3 large shallots
Mandolin, deep pot and a fine mesh strainer
Slice the shallots very thinly using a mandolin. It is important that the slices are all the same thickness so they cook evenly. Make sure to heat the oil in a deep saucepan leaving plenty of room in the pan. This is important because the oil really bubbles up when the juicy shallots first start cooking. The temperature’s right when a slice of shallot immediately sizzles but doesn’t blacken when it hits the oil. Fry the shallots, stirring constantly. Pull the shallots from the heat when they are a light golden brown since they will continue to cook and darken after being removed from the hot oil. If they get too dark, they are bitter. Drain, reserving the crispy shallots and oil separately.
Seafood salad dressing
1/3 cup cold shallot oil
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbl Vietnamese chili paste
1 tbl sugar
3 large cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1-2 limes
2 ½ oz ginger, sliced on mandolin and then julienned
Mix 1/3 cup shallot oil with the fish sauce, soy, wine, chili paste, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and ginger. Toss a combination of cooked shrimp, scallops, lobster, monkfish, or halibut with the dressing. Right before serving, taste for salt and garnish the seafood salad with fresh cilantro and crispy shallots.