Spring onions, green onions and scallions…what’s the difference?
Spring onions, green onions, scallions—they all seem like the same thing, but are they? And can you use them for the same thing? The answer to both of these questions is: sort of. They are all part of the allium family, which includes shallots, leeks, garlic, chives and onions as well as scallions, green onions and spring onions.
Spring onions are similar to green onions and scallions, except instead of just white at the tip they have what looks like a mini onion at the bottom. Basically, the bulb of the onion is allowed to grow slightly, so they are a more mature version than their allium cousins, scallions and green onions. Spring onions are planted in the fall and harvested in the spring, hence the name. Flavor-wise they are a combo between the sweetness of scallions and the strong flavor of onions. The onion bulb is sweeter in flavor and not as strong as an onion but the greens of a spring onion are more intense in flavor than the leaves of scallions. Although spring onions can be used in place of scallions, it’s not recommended if the spring onions are not going to be cooked, as the flavor profile is quite a bit stronger than scallions. They can be used interchangeably in recipes that involve cooking, as this process will mellow the flavor of the spring onions.
How to use them: Again, trim off as much of the top of the green leaves as you wish and trim the roots off the bottom of the white part. Dice the green leaves in circles as you would chives and then mince the onion at the bottom. Spring onions can be used much like regular onions. They are yummy roasted whole or grilled. Add them to a tartine or grilled cheese sandwich, a quiche, soups or dressings. Or use them to enhance the flavor of burgers. They can be added to most Asian dishes, including a stir fry or any rice dish. Slice them and use them as a garnish and, if you find yourself with extras on hand, they can be chopped up and stored in the freezer.
Green Onions & Scallions:
While spring onions often get lumped in with green onions and scallions, there is a bit of a difference here. Green onions and scallions are in fact the same thing. These are onions that are harvested early before an onion starts to form or, they can be harvested from varieties of green onions that never actually form a bulb on the end. This is why you get a white tip with hollow, tubular green leaves growing out of the base, but without an actual onion. Still, like an onion, the white part of a scallion or green onion is stronger in flavor than the green parts. You can eat the whole thing, or some people just eat the white part and chop part way up the green, discarding the darker green parts on top. This is the type of onion you would typically see in a miso soup.
How to use them: Simply trim off the roots at the end of the white part and trim the tips or remove as much of the dark green at the top as you like. Dice the rest into small circles, like you would cut chives. Or, you could easily put a whole scallion in a sushi role, or wrap or grill the scallions and wrap them in bacon. Scallions are a great compliment to any soup, including miso. They are a great topper for a baked potato, tuna, chicken or salmon salad or salad dressings. They also go great in an omelet or green veggie dishes such as tabbouleh.