Leeks [Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum and other vars.]

This is the leek commonly found in North America in practically every supermarket, produce market, farmer's market and produce stand. For culinary purposes a "medium leek" is cut to 13 inches long (excluding roots) and weighs about 9 ounces with a bulb about 1.6 inches diameter. Prepared for use it will weigh about 5-3/4 ounces. The photo shows a leek as marketed and as prepared for use in cooking.

Leeks are used in all European cuisines, and are important in the cuisines of the British Isles, paricularly Wales and Ireland, and in France. They are often used as a basis for soup stocks in combination with onions.

Buying:   This is not a problem in North America as they are to be found in practically every supermarket, produce market and vegetable stand. They should be fresh looking and firm, without yellowing of the leaves.

Prep:   The dark green parts of leeks are generally not used because they are considered tough and inferior in flavor, though a few are often tossed into the pot when making soup stock. Leeks are often rather muddy, and the mud cannot be removed without preparation. For these reasons you need to prepare the leek as shown in the top photo. Splitting will allow you to to spread the leaves and wash out all the mud.

Cooking:   Recipes giving leeks by weight presume they are as purchased, cut to 13 inches long. Most, though, just call for "leeks" or "medium leeks". In these cases it is prudent to presume a leek that weighs between 8 and 9 ounces when cut to 13 inches and before preparation.

After preparation (as shown in the top photo), leaks are most often sliced crosswise very thin starting from the top and working down to the root end. The slices will usually be fried in oil along with onions and other aromatic vegetables before adding water and other ingredients.

Leeks Taiwan Leeks - [Allium ampeloprasum var. ???]

These leeks are now grown in California and appear in the Asian markets here. They are much smaller than the common leek with bulbs up to 1.5 inches diameter and shafts about 0.83 inch diameter. They were cut to the same standard 13 inch length (not counting roots) used for Common Leeks sent to market. Preparation and usage is pretty much the same as for the common leek.

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