The leek, Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (L.), also
sometimes known as Allium porrum, is a vegetable which
belongs, along with the onion and garlic, to the Alliaceae
family. Two related vegetables, the elephant garlic and
kurrat, are also variant subspecies of Allium ampeloprasum,
although different in their uses as food.
The edible part of the leek plant is a bundle of leaf
sheaths which is sometimes called a stem or stalk.
The edible portions of the leek
are the white onion base and light green stalk. The dark
green portion is usually discarded since it has less flavor.
As the leek grows, this part becomes woody and very chewy.
One of the most popular uses for the whites and light green
stalks is for adding flavor to stock. Chefs rarely use the
darker part of the leek for stock because of its bitterness.
However, a few leaves are sometimes tied with twine and
other herbs to form a bouquet garni.
Leek has a mild onion-like taste, less bitter than scallion.
The taste might be described as a mixture of mild onion and
cucumber, with a fresh smell similar to scallion. In its raw
state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm.
Leek is typically chopped into slices 5 - 10 mm thick. The
slices have a tendency to fall apart, due to the layered
structure of the leek. There are different ways of preparing
- Boiled, which turns it soft and mild in taste.
- Fried, which leaves it more crunchy and preserves
- Raw, which can be used in salads, doing especially
well when they are the prime ingredient.
Leeks are an ingredient of cock-a-leekie soup, leek and
potato soup and vichyssoise, along with leek soup.
Because of their symbolism in Wales, they have come to be
used extensively in that country's cuisine. Elsewhere in
Britain, leeks have come back into favour only in the last
fifty years or so, having been overlooked for several
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