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leeks vs scallions vs chives

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi,

Can someone care to enlighten me what is the difference among leeks, scallions and chives? Can i interchange using them? When do i use the green part vs the white part?

Thanks!:lips:
post #2 of 9
Leeks are a vegetable. Sometimes interchangeable with onions, but usually standing by themselves. Leek and potato soup, braised leeks, etc. Green leaves of leeks are very tough and fibrous and not eaten, but are excellent as a bouquet garni in stocks

Scallions, for me, are green onions. Good for salads, baked potatoes, Mexican stuff. Both green and white are used

Chives are very fine, think pencil-lead thickness. Excellent for garnishing. No white on this one, only bright green.
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post #3 of 9
They're all alliums, along with onions, garlic and shallots. Onions garlic and shallots, we use the bulbs

Leeks, scallions and chives we use the green/white stem.

Leeks are the biggest and I think the mildest flavor. They are usually cooked.

Scallions/green onions are usually used uncooked as final flavor/garnish. When cooked they can take on a soapy flavor if sauted much. But they're good grilled whole. I think these have the strongest flavor and to my taste have a bit of hotness to them.

Chives are a thinner plant, though there are two varieties.

The slightly broad flat leafed kind are the classic baked potato garnish and have a mild onion flavor with just a bit of green earthy sharpness. This is the kind most often used.

The other kind is even thinner and usually called garlic or chinese chives. As noted they do have a garlic/onion flavor.

With chives the tip is sometimes a bit wilted so don't use that. Towards the base, they can be a bit woody and tough too.

The blooms from chives are sometimes used in salads/garnishes as they are edible. I'm not fond of eating the blooms--flowery garlic is not a flavor I find pleasing.

I don't consider them interchangable. The flavors are different and so is the texture. As noted, leeks are usually cooked, green onions may be cooked 50/50 or raw, and chives are rarely cooked or added for just the last couple of minutes as the seem to lose their flavor if cooked much.
post #4 of 9
The next thing to do which will really give you a good idea is to taste them. This way you will really be able to judge them as to what flavor you are looking for in a particular dish.
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #5 of 9
for a guy who cant boil water you have good knowledge
post #6 of 9
I agree with you and you can also taste them as you cook them, after 2 min, 4 min...you get the idea.

That way you can use them when the flavor correspond to what you are looking for.

By the way, never chop onions in the food processor, they will become bitter.
post #7 of 9
I've never heard this before, and have sometimes had it suggested that using the food processor can be very helpful depending on how the onions will be used. Is this "never" supposed to be a hard and fast rule, as it were, or does the final use and form of the onion play a role here (such as when making the onion so fine the result is more like grating)? Also, why is it that an onion will become bitter if chopped in a food processor?

Thanks,

Shel
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for everyone's share of expertise. This is very helpful indeed!!

Thanks again.

Tricel:chef:
post #9 of 9
Onions (and other alliums) get their characteristic flavor from a combination of two chemicals in the onion. Normally these chemicals are separate in the onion. When you cut the onion, the chemicals can and do mix. The more you cut, the more chemical mixes. So finely minced garlic, for example, has much stronger flavor than a whole clove.

The food processor is a challenge for chopping onions. Without a good amount of pre-cutting and only a very brief processing, the food processor chops onions poorly. The chop is very uneven with large and small pieces and many pieces totally liquefied. So when you cook this it cooks unevenly and steams for the first part from all the free liquid. Further, with the liquefaction comes a very strong reaction between those chemicals that in strength has a bitter unpleasant flavor.

However. there are times it works well. Lidia Bastianich does a mire-poix this way for some dishes, onion added last and in pre-cut chunks. But it's not something she commonly does. Daisy Martinez makes a Latin-style sofrito this way http://www.daisycooks.com/pages/recipes_detail.cfm?ID=1 and a recaito this way http://www.daisycooks.com/pages/recipes_detail.cfm?ID=5
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