A scallion, green onion, or spring onion, 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. Harvested for their taste, scallions are milder than most onions. Used as a vegetable, it is eaten either raw or cooked.
While scallion is a term that is understandable to most English speakers, there are other names associated with the onion including the aforementioned ones. Other names such as salad onion, table onion, green shallot, onion stick, long onion, baby onion, precious onion, yard onion, gibbon, syboe, or scally onion, may also be used.
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.
Germinating scallions, 10 days old
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:
Scallions 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).
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 literally 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.
^Fritsch, R.M.; N. Friesen (2002). "Chapter 1: Evolution, Domestication, and Taxonomy". In H.D. Rabinowitch and L. Currah. Allium Crop Science: Recent Advances. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing. p. 18. ISBN0-85199-510-1.
^Fritsch, R.M.; N. Friesen (2002). "Chapter 1: Evolution, Domestication, and Taxonomy". In H.D. Rabinowitch and L. Currah. Allium Crop Science: Recent Advances. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing. p. 20. ISBN0-85199-510-1.
^Brewster, James L. (1994). Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums (1st ed.). Wallingford, UK: CAB International. p. 15. ISBN0-85198-753-2.