Leeks have been used in the culinary world for as long as I can remember, yet a lot of people don’t know how they taste when on their own. They’re such popular ingredients, but are often part of a dish with many ingredients. Let’s find out what leeks taste like!
What are Leeks?
Leeks are long, cylindrical stems that have various uses in cooking. They are quite large, and that’s one reason why many cooks do not know how to use them properly. Which parts can you use for cooking?
They look a lot like scallions or green onions. It can be very hard to distinguish them from these lookalikes once chopped up and found in cooked dishes.
Leeks take six months to fully grow and be ready for harvest. They are harvested during winter and summer, and depending on the season when they are collected, the leeks can have variant tastes.
Vegetarians love leeks because of their immense amount of nutritional value.
What Do Leeks Taste Like?
Let’s get it settled once and for all. How do they taste?
It can be difficult to describe the taste objectively. It will depend on so many factors, including the type of cooking and when the leek was harvested.
The taste of leeks can change after cooking because of mixing and exposure to other ingredients. To find out the real taste of natural leeks, try eating them on their own - or by having them in a salad.
Leeks have a mild flavor and resembles an onion-like richness, but much milder. Onions are zestier than leeks. And this is not a bad thing. The mild flavor makes leeks perfect for salads, soups, and curries. Don’t make the mistake of using leeks in place of onions, though. Even if they have a similar flavor, they cannot work the same way - such as in sauteeing - because their stem structure is different than that of the onion’s.
How To Prepare Leeks
Here are a few simple steps to prepare your leeks.
- 1Slice off the tough dark green parts and discard them. If you don’t want to waste them, you can keep them and use them when making vegetable stock.
- 2Cut off the little beards found at the bottom of the leeks.
- 3Slice the leeks lengthwise horizontally using a chef’s knife. Avoid cutting through the end (where you can find the beard). Rotate it and slice the leeks lengthwise so that if you’re looking at it from the sliced end, you get a crosshatch pattern.
- 4Place the leeks in a basin of cold water to remove any dirt and grit. Rinse them a few times, then drain. Alternatively, begin with cutting the leeks into pieces before rinsing and draining.
- 5Towel-dry leeks, then slice them into rounds.
These vegetables are perfect for braised dishes and soup bases. Leeks offer so much flavor. You can definitely tell the difference.
Which Type of Leeks to Use
The first step of cooking is choosing the right ingredients. You’ll need to do the same when picking out leeks. There are different types for different kinds of dishes. The general rule, whatever the variety of the vegetable is, is to use the freshest ingredients possible.
For making salads, the best type of leeks to use would be young ones. Young leeks offer richer flavors and better texture. When shopping for leeks, check the tops. They should have a dark green color and be rolled tightly. Check the bottoms, too. They need to be clean and tender, with a whitish color. A good leek would have bottoms that measure 2-3 inches.
What to avoid: leeks with bottoms that are round shaped. These kinds of leeks are overly mature. While they are still edible, they are not suitable for making salads. They aren’t as crunchy as younger leeks, and their flavor is less rich.
Also, check for the diameter of the base. You need to choose leeks that have at least half an inch of the base. Larger diameters are good, too.
Differentiating Leeks and Green Onions
To the naked eye, leeks and green onions or scallions look almost identical to each other when chopped together. Based on their appearance alone, it’s hard to figure out which is which. However, the difference comes in when you inspect their textures.
Leeks have a crunchier and firmer texture when uncooked. On the other hand, raw green onions have a slimy quality. And when you cook green onions, they get even more slimy. Because of these characteristics, these two vegetables must not be used interchangeably. Doing so will affect the overall taste and flavor of your recipe significantly.
Leeks have a milder flavor, too, compared to the taste of green onions. Leeks taste sweet and sour at the same time. Green onions do not have this property. Leeks are ideal for baking, braising, salads, and sauteing. The slimy consistency of cooked green onions make them unsuitable for baking or sauteing. Instead, they are used best for frying and grilling.
Finally, the size of the two are distinctly different. The stems of leeks are larger in length and diameter. Green onions are smaller in general, despite having a similar shape. Once chopped, they can be confusing, but before chopping, it’s pretty easy to distinguish one from the other.
There you go - I hope you enjoyed this read. We finally shed some light on the taste that leeks have. Don’t forget our tips on choosing the perfect leeks before cooking. Follow our preparation steps, too, to ensure maximum flavor when using leeks. Now, you know their difference from green onions, too!
If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends! And please leave your thoughts in the comments section. Do you like leeks, too? How do you cook them?
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