This Thai-inspired gift idea requires a little advance prep, but these chilli, lime and lemongrass-infused shallots are so delicious.
- 125g (4oz) table salt
- 1kg (2¼lb) shallots, peeled
- 500ml bottle white wine or cider vinegar
- 125g (4oz) caster sugar
- 3-8 red chillies
- 1-2 sticks lemon grass
- 3-8 lime leaves
- 3-4 jars
Place the salt in a large, non-metallic bowl and pour 1 litre (1¾ pints) boiling water over. Stir until the salt dissolves to give a brine, then leave the brine to cool.
Add the shallots to the brine, and place a plate on top of them to keep them submersed in the brine. Leave the shallots in the brine for 1-2 days, stirring them occasionally.
Pour the vinegar into a saucepan (preferably not an aluminium pan) and add the sugar. Warm the vinegar gently until the sugar dissolves, then remove the pan from the heat and leave the vinegar to cool.
Drain the shallots from the brine, rinse, pat dry and pack them into jars, adding 1-2 chillies, ¼-½ stick of lemon grass and 1-2 lime leaves to each jar.
Seal the jars with vinegar-proof lids, and keep shallots in a cool, dry place for at least 1-2 weeks before eating. The shallots will keep in a cool place for up to 2 months.