Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ingredient Alert!

As much as I depend on shallots, they are not onions. Sometimes I miss onions horribly. However, simply cooking them sends my wife back to bed. Scallions are fine, but to me, they are just barely more than garnish. What's a family to do?

We have found a new alternative to onions: leeks! Leeks are odd creatures: they remind me of an ear of corn with no silk or corn inside. It doesn't sound like much, I know, but stay with me. . .

The secret to enjoying these things is to cut them up, then to float them in water. Because of their shape, orientation, and proximity to the ground, they tend to take on some dirt and grit. Drop the chopped leeks in a large bowl of water and the good stuff will float while the grit drops to the bottom. Swirl them around a bit, remove with a skimmer and you're ready to go.

So how are they? Just eating a bit raw was a real eye opener for me and my son Carter. We were instantly excited by the sturdy texture, the onion-like smell and taste, the sweetness that came out even from its raw state, and the hint of a grass-like flavor that gives it its own personality.

So far, we have tried leeks in chicken fried rice (minimal soy sauce, just for color, salt to add flavor, and extra soy sauce on the side for those that can tolerate it) and it was definitely better than shallots. Try leeks instead of onions when you are cooking something that really needs some onion-like flavor. Let me know how you like it - enjoy!