The Superior Allium

Without doubt it is the Leek. Whether it be a chowder, soup or stew, its sweetness, aroma and taste are far and above the other, lowly alliums.


I’m grateful for the flavor of those small sweet red-skinned allium bulbs who sometimes have multiple cloves.


A worthy allium in it’s own right and I use it often, but there is no such thing as Potato and Shallot soup, is there? :wink:

This is the allium supremo:

I’d also put in a vote for shallots. For cooked purposes, they are like onion, but have more nuanced flavors.

Leeks, green onions are great in their own right. But I think of them as alliums with different purposes. Leeks for e.g. soup, green onions as garnishes.


I think it really depends on your cooking style. I never cook with leeks. I can’t even remember the last time I bought leeks (probably Thanksgiving a few years ago).

I cook a lot of Asian/SE Asian food. For me, red onions are vital. They get chopped, sliced and pureed, and cooked, fried, and used raw, depending on the application.

I can’t cook a lot of the dishes I make without onion.

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Leeks have a lot of waste if you don’t use the green part (I do), cost more than onions, and require careful cleaning. This means they will never be a staple in most American kitchens. If I could cook with only one allium, it would be the shallot.

I love leeks and use them often in dishes where they shine.

But the same can be said of shallots, green onions, sweet onions, and fat Spanish onions.

It’s like asking which of my dogs I love more.


Perhaps due to my perspective as an allium snob I have never been concerned with the price nor have I found them to be difficult to clean. Fresh shallots sprinkled on a taco are fabulous, but in cookery they can overly assertive, like a pushy guest at a dinner party, unless cooked for a long time, such as a braise. Where as the Leek, with it’s subtle, aromatic qualities enters a room and strikes up a congenial conversation with the elements of the dish making them all feel welcome and appreciated.

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I have onions (red for sandwiches, yellow/white for cooking), shallots, & scallions in the house all the time. Leeks show up about every other month when I want the green tops for making stock, the white part usually ends up in some kind of egg based dish. I’d say 90% of my cooking starts with an allium and garlic, my two favorite flavors.

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Would you say red onions here in the U.S. are pretty much the same as red onions used in India?

I am a cat person!

I’m just having a bit of fun here. I’ve had the flu all week and finally starting to feel better. Of late I’ve been substituting leeks for yellow onions and shallots and I find I like the leek version a bit better.

I love onions, they never make me cry, but life without them would make me cry.

Totally agree.

I always have at home, garlic, shallot and onion (yellow or white). Outdoors, I have chives.
These are the general ones and suitable for many types of cuisine. I have a preference for garlic, loved it, even garlic pickles!

In spring, I like young fresh onions with the greens, very good for salads.

As for leeks, I have them from time to time (mainly winter), I use everything, the green for cooking broth (usually threw them away after the cooking is done), the white for other preparation. I had once an amazingly delicious amuse bouche - Leek with nutty butter by Atsushi Tanaka in Paris. It takes 3 days to make, not for home cook.

Beware of what you said! :wink:

And finally :grin::


Why in the logo, the onion is about to germinate?

Damn you google! {shakes fist at large uncaring corporation}

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I love love love leeks. Unfortunately, they are hideously expensive in the U.S., especially if you use them as a “vegetable” rather than a seasoning component, as I prefer. They are typically $4 per pound or more, and a pound of them doesn’t go very far when you eat them like I do! I love most alliums, though, and use them all for different things. It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but my least favorite are sweet onions. I don’t actively dislike them, but I find them insipid and dull. I want onions to taste like onions, not sugar!

I always have shallots, garlic, yellow onions and red onions, but for my cooking, I could get rid of all of them except the red onion.

No. I think the onions in Asia in general are different – they are smaller, and the papery skin is more of a pinkish color than the deep red/purple colors I see here. From what I’ve seen in family kitchens, the onions (Bombay onions) are more like golf ball sized or slightly larger (same in Singapore/Malaysia too), whereas the red onions here are baseball/softball sized. When I buy red onions here, I try to dig through the pile to find smaller ones.

For Indian cooking, I just use the regular red onions, but for my Singaporean/Malay cooking, depending on what I’m making, I use either red onion or shallots. Sometimes I do a bit of both.

Here’s an example of onions in India – look at the size of the onions compared to the man’s hand:


Any difference in taste between small and big red onions here?

I agee with you
I love leeks but they are very expensive if I can find them in my part of the world. Have to buy them for the Asian stores whenI travel to Virginia every 2-3 weeks. Love them braised with olive oil, butter and wine .
I cannot be with garlic ( i always buy the peeled california garlic from Costco, have a jar of chopped garlic in the fridge for emergency and 5 heads of garlic that are packaged in one of those mesh bag as reserve. Somehow, I hate these whole unpeeled garlic . it is messy to peel with their shell flying all over the kitchen, furthermore, the whole garlic available are mostly from China. So, most of the time, I throw them away but always buy them as reserve. At $1.00,/ package, it is with my peace of mind!
For my cooking always have red onions, spring onions and ginger as well.
The best red onions if available are from Italy. They have a flat end and are very sweet. Caramelized with EVOO, one can even eat them as is.
AAs for shallot, I also like them but I need a lot as substitute for red onions. So, I tend to use them only when I am searing scallops, I would fry the shallot after the searing is almost completed, to crumble on top of the scallops served with spinach cooked with EVOO and Parmegiano.
Incidentally, when I am out of shallot, I always have on reserve from Asian store, fried shallot. It comes very handy.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo