Cooking can be a daunting task if you are a beginner or have just started cooking. Even if you get the main ingredients right, you’ll certainly get confused when it comes to using the right herbs to add flavor, aroma, and depth. Two frequently used vegetables for these purposes are Scallions and shallots.
According to a survey, more than 167 thousand tons of shallots were produced by Thailand in 2018, and in 2020 this number was estimated to increase up to 141.25 thousand tons. In another survey, it was estimated that Indonesia produced 1.79 million metric tons in 2020. These numbers give us an insight into the main countries that produce these aromatic vegetables and their popularity around the globe.
But despite being popular and useful, scallions and shallots remain comparatively unknown; some people can’t even tell the difference between their appearance, let alone their flavor and aroma. So in this article, we will discuss the differences between these two vegetables, so you can understand them better and know when, where and how to use them; This will prevent you from confusing them with each other and making blunders in your cooking.
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Scallions are also known as sibies and spring onions, and they come from many different species, all of which come from the genus Allium. Other vegetables related to scallions that you might be familiar with include shallots, leeks, garlic, and chives. Scallion usually has a mild flavor; this is helpful if you are trying to add a light flavor on top of the strong flavor that your dishes usually have.
Most of the bulbs from the Allium genus are used in cooking, but the defining feature of Scallion is that its bulbs are not fully formed. The leaves of Scallion grow directly from the bulb, and they are usually long, hollow, and have a green color like most vegetable appendages. These leaves are often consumed on their own; you can cut them like you’d cut onions and add them in dishes like soups.
you can use scallions for a wide variety of culinary purposes. You can either cook them or use them in raw form, such as salads and salsas. Scallions are frequently used in various eastern dishes and sauces, but the lower half-centimeter is usually removed before use.
Another popular way of using scallions is as cebollitas. Cebollitas are best described as salted and grilled scallions eaten with other foods like rice and cheese. Scallions are also used with ginger or garlic in Chinese cuisine; this gives the Chinese food its depth and unique flavors.
Shallots are closely related to onions. It wasn’t until recently that they were separated from the Allium Cepa species (the species from which Onions come). As we have already mentioned, Shallots are closely related to Scallions, so consequently, all the other vegetables related to scallions are related to shallots as well. The origin of this miniature-onion is believed to be from central or southwest Asia; they were transported from here to other parts of the world, including India and the Mediterranean.
Ashkelon is an ancient city, and the Greeks believed that this is where Shallots initially originated. So, they named it shallots. But Shallot is a term specifically used for French Red or Persian Shallot. One of the most famous ways these underdeveloped bulbs are being used today is in pickling.
Shallots are also used in Asian cuisine where they are finely sliced or chopped and fried or sautéed with oil and then used as condiments. Shallots cooked this way are often served alongside porridge. They taste similar to onions but with a milder flavor.
Now that we have given an overview of Shallots and Scallions let’s dive deeper and explore the factors that set these aromatic vegetables apart.
Shallots and Scallion might have a few similarities in their appearance, but some stark differences make each one of them unique. Scallions usually come with their green, long, and hollow leaves attached to the bulb, while in Scallions, they are removed. Scallions also have smaller bulb sizes compared to shallots, which is because there are no extra things in their bulb portion.
Another difference in the appearance of these veggies is that the green part above the bulb usually dies before harvesting in shallots, while in scallions, this part remains intact because they are harvested early on in the initial growth phase of the onion.
Most people tend to assume that scallions and shallots have similar flavor profiles, so they also assume that they can use them interchangeably in recipes. But that’s not the case; Scallions and Shallots have different flavors and aromas that separate one from the other, and this is also why you shouldn’t use them interchangeably in your recipes. As Scallion are harvested early, they don’t get time to develop their complete flavor; hence they have a lighter or milder flavor than shallots.
Shallots pack a garlicky flavor in addition to having the classic onion flavor, and this property is unique to shallots (a 2-in-1 kind of situation). But keep in mind that overcooking Shallots can start caramelizing them, which will make their flavor milder, and if cooked long enough, they might also become sweet. But Scallions have their hollow green leaves attached to the post-harvesting, and if you remember correctly, they have their unique flavor, and shallots don’t usually have this leafy part.
So What’s the Difference Between Scallions and Shallots?
Here is a brief list to sum up some of the differences we have mentioned:
- Scallions usually come with their green, long, and hollow leaves attached to the bulb, while in Scallions, they are removed.
- The green part above the bulb usually dies before harvesting in shallots, while in scallions, this part remains intact because they are harvested early on in the initial growth phase of the onion.
- Scallions are harvested early; they don’t get time to develop their complete flavor; hence they have a lighter or milder flavor than shallots.
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