Know Your Onions: A Guide To Alliums
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Alliums, or more commonly referred to as aromatics, are a large food family. This family of plants include onions, garlic, leeks, chives and shallots. From being used in a mirepoix while cooking to slivers of thinly sliced onions in salads, the beautiful magenta of pickled onions, cooking with alliums has blanketed our kitchens. However, not much is known about the wide variety of these plants and at times, it could be hard to differentiate in flavour or usage, if you consider that it’s all the same. We’ve put together a list of these delicious alliums and what sets them apart. Read on.

Yellow Onions

Often spotted with a lighter pink skin as compared to the red onion, the yellow onions are milder in flavour and sweeter to taste. Perfect for caramelisation, yellow onions work well for making a batch of onion jam, caramelised onions to add to a dip or sauce or even in the classic chicken soup.

White Onions

Simpler and more classic in flavour, white onions break down more easily when cooked as compared to its counterparts. It has a less complex flavour than the white or red onion and is a softer variety that can be used for everyday cooking in soups, stews and even a slow-cooked chili.


A more elongated variety of allium, the shallot has a mellow onion-garlicky flavour. It has a pungency that is hard to miss and works in robustly flavoured sauces like a Bolognese. Shallots also taste delightful when fried and used as toppings on congee, dips and sprinkled over rice.

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Earthy in flavour with a lightly crunchy texture, scallions taste best when eaten raw. Use it to infuse oils, make dips for dimsums or chopped finely in omelettes, salads, as a garnish for Asian dishes and even as a topping to your piping hot bowl of ramen.


These long leafy green stalks have a mild vegetal flavour and is often seen used liberally in Continental cooking. Considered to be the mildest of all alliums, leeks can be flash grilled or charred to be eaten drizzled with some olive oil and flaky salt. Leeks also form the mirepoix base for stews, sauces and other long-cooking dishes.