A scallion (spring onion in Britain) is one of various Allium species, all of which have hollow green leaves (like the common onion), but which lack a fully developed root bulb. It has a relatively mild onion flavour, and is used as a vegetable, either raw or cooked. Many other names are used, including green onion, spring onion, salad onion, table onion, green shallot, onion stick, long onion, baby onion, precious onion, yard onion, gibbon, syboe or scally onion.
The words scallion and shallot are related and can be traced back to the Greek ασκολόνιον ('askolonion') as described by the Greek writer Theophrastus. This name, in turn, seems to originate from the name of the town of Ashkelon. The plant itself apparently came from farther east of Europe.
The Welsh onion (Allium fistulosum) does not form bulbs even when mature, and is grown in the West almost exclusively as a scallion or salad onion, although in Asia this species is of primary importance and used both fresh and in cooking. "Scallion" is also used for young plants of the common onion (A. cepa var. cepa) and shallot (A. cepa var. aggregatum, formerly A. ascalonicum), harvested before bulbs form, or sometimes when slight bulbing has occurred. Most of the cultivars grown in the West primarily as salad onions or scallions belong to A. cepa var. cepa. Other species sometimes used as scallions include A. ×proliferum and A. ×wakegi.
Species and cultivars which may be called "scallions" include:
- Allium cepa
- "White Lisbon"
- "White Lisbon Winter Hardy" – an extra-hardy variety for overwintering
- Allium chinense
- Allium fistulosum
- A. ×proliferum
- Allium ×wakegi
Harvested for their taste, they are milder than most onions. They may be cooked or used raw as a part of salads, salsas, or Asian recipes. Diced scallions are used in soup, noodle and seafood dishes, as well as sandwiches, curries or as part of a stir fry. In many Eastern sauces, the bottom half-centimetre (quarter-inch) of scallion roots is commonly removed before use.
In Mexico and the Southwest United States, cebollitas are scallions that are sprinkled with salt and grilled whole for cheese and rice. Topped with lime juice, they typically serve as a traditional accompaniment to asado dishes.
In Catalan cuisine, calçot is a variety of green onion traditionally eaten in a calçotada (plural: calçotades). A popular gastronomic event of the same name is held between the end of winter and early spring, where calçots are grilled, dipped in salvitxada or romesco sauce, and consumed in massive quantities.
In Vietnam, Welsh onion is important to prepare dưa hành (fermented onions) which is served for Tết, the Vietnamese New Year. A kind of sauce, mỡ hành (Welsh onion fried in oil), is used in dishes such as cơm tấm, bánh ít, cà tím nướng, and others. Welsh onion is the main ingredient in the dish cháo hành, which is a rice porridge dish to treat the common cold.
In India it is eaten as an appetizer (raw) with main meals. In north India Coriander, Mint and Green Onion Chutney is made using Scallions (raw).
In southern Philippines, it is ground in a mortar along with some ginger and chili pepper to make a native condiment called wet palapa, which can be used to spice up dishes, or topped in fried or sun dried food. It could also be used to make the dry version of palapa, which is stir fried fresh coconut shavings and wet palapa.
During the Passover meal (Seder), Persian Jews lightly and playfully strike family members with scallions when the Hebrew word dayenu is read, symbolizing the whips endured by the Israelites under the ancient Egyptians.
An oil, scallion oil is sometimes made from the green leaves. The leaves are chopped, lightly cooked, oil is added and then it is liquidised. The oil is then used as a garnish.
Regional and other names
Scallions have various common names throughout the world. In some countries, green onions are mistakenly called shallots by non-gardeners, and shallots are referred to by alternative names such as eschallot or eschalotte.
- Arabic: Known in the Arab-speaking countries as "بصل أخضر" (green onion).
- Argentina: Known as "cebolla de verdeo".
- Australia: The common name is "spring onion".
- Austria and Germany: Known as Frühlingszwiebel (among other names), which means "spring onion".
- Brazil: Known as cebolinha, which is also the Portuguese word for chives. A more precise term is cebolinha-verde which refers specifically to A. fistulosum.
- Canada: Known as green onion.
- Caribbean: Often referred to as "chives".
- China: The common name is cōng (葱); xiǎocōng (小葱) is another term for spring onions.
- Croatia : Known as mladi luk, which means "young onion".
- Denmark: Known as "forårsløg" when referring to undeveloped A. pena and "pibeløg" when referring to A. fistulosum.
- Glasgow: Known as "Sibies".
- Greece: Known as "φρέσκο κρεμμυδάκι".
- Iceland: Known as vorlaukur (literally fore-onions").
- India: They may be referred to as "spring onions".
- Indonesia and Malaysia: Known as daun bawang (onion leaf). The same term is used for chives and leeks.
- Iran: Known as پیازچه.
- Ireland: The term "scallions" is commonly used.
- Italy: Known as cipolla d'inverno (spring onion), cipollotto or cipolletta, which means "little onion", "cipollotti freschi" (fresh little onions), or cipolla verde ("green onion").
- Japan: Known as negi (葱 / ねぎ) in Japanese.
- Korea: Known as pa (파).
- Netherlands: Known as bosuitjes, which literally translates as "bundle of onions", or lenteuitjes, which translates as "spring onions".
- New Zealand: The common name is "spring onion".
- Peru: The common name is cebolla china which means "Chinese onion" in Spanish.
- Philippines: Known as sibuyas na mura. It is also called berdeng sibuyas.
- Romania: Known as ceapă verde, which means "green onion".
- Serbia: Known as mladi luk, which means "young onion".
- Sri Lanka: Known as rathu loonu (රතු ලූනු), which leterally means "red onions".
- Sweden: Known as salladslök or vårlök. (One source insists that vårlök is inedible, a misnomer brought about through confusion with the English name "spring onion".)
- United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries, including Singapore: The most common name is "spring onion". In Northern Ireland, the name scallion is preferred; in Scotland they are known as "spring onion", and also occasionally in Scots as cibies or sibies, from the French syboe.
- United States: Known as "scallion" or "green onion". The term "green onion" is also used in reference to immature specimens of the ordinary onion (Allium cepa) harvested in the spring, and the term "spring onion" refers exclusively to this onion in the United States.
- Wales: Also known as "gibbon" //. Known in South Wales as shibwns.
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