In Southeast Asian cooking, crispy fried shallots and garlic add irresistible crunch and a subtle toasted sweetness to everything from curries and noodles to refreshing herb- laden salads. I like them so much and end up wanting them on everything, so making a big batch is the way to go for me. This recipe requires more knife work than any other in my book. I apologize for that, but know that the payoff is worth it. Also, once the shallots and garlic are sliced, the hard part is over. These get crunchier and cook faster if the shallot and garlic are sliced evenly and as thin as possible. If you have a mandoline, use it here. It’s not totally necessary, but it makes for easier and faster work. If you’re scared of the sharp blade, use a dish towel to hold on to whatever you’re slicing or wear a rubber glove (the kind you might wear to wash dishes). Take. Your. Time. You’ll be left with a jar of intensely flavorful oil to boot. Use that to sear fish or make dressing.
Combine shallots and garlic in a small pot. Add enough vegetable oil just to cover and place over medium heat. When shallots and garlic are sizzling vigorously, about 4 minutes in, reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer shallots and garlic to a paper towel–lined plate and season with a little salt. Let oil cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Crunchies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about 1 month.