Green Onions, Shallots, Scallions, Chives, Etc.

Q. Some of the recipes in your cookbook call for green onions and some for shallots. I thought they were the same. Green onions are also called scallions, right? But are shallots something else? And what about chives? Where do they fit in?

A. The word “shallot” was indeed used for a long time in New Orleans for green onions. When I worked in a grocery store as a teenager, we ordered green onions from the wholesaler as “shallots.” But that usage has faded since true shallots have become widely available in grocery stores. Real shallots are a special breed of dried onions that look something like small garlic heads, often with a blush of purple on their very white skins. Often called “French shallots,” they’re a bit denser and more flavorful than, say, yellow onions. Or green onions. Which are baby yellow onions. They are more exactingly named, as you note, “scallions.”

Chives are related to all the above, but quite different in flavor. In the 1990s, there was a vogue in upscale restaurants to position two long fresh chives across entree plates instead of parsley, which had been the king of the garnishes for decades before. Like the parsley in its day, these chives were very rarely eaten.

Some of the recipes in your cookbook call for green onions and some for shallots. I thought they were the same. Green onions are also called scallions, right? But are shallots something else? And what about chives? Where do they fit in? Click for the answer. . . .

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