Vegetarian Offal: Scallion Roots

In Vegetarian Offal I examine the scraps and cut-offs that might otherwise be thrown away. Offal isn’t just for meat-eaters anymore! Today’s offal: scallion roots.

Back when my friends at We Heart New York ate at Aska, they mentioned a dish that contained leek root. I remember reading that and thinking to myself, “Well that’s interesting.” The next time I was cooking with scallions, after chopping off the root end I regarded the squiggly threads with suspicion. I rinsed them thoroughly; this is the end deepest in the dirt, after all. I cautiously took a bite. I was amazed — it had the same full onion flavor as the rest of the scallion. I set about trying to figure out a way to harness the flavor in a palatable way. It didn’t take me long to think of tempura. I made a quick batter with brown rice flour and cold seltzer (a technique I learned from Ming Tsai), then dipped the cleaned scallion ends in the batter. I made sure each of the little roots was coated, shook off the excess batter, and then fried them in vegetable oil. When they were lightly browned I drained them on a paper towel and sprinkled them with a little kosher salt. The roots get nice a crunchy and curl out like tentacles. The brown rice powder gets nice and crispy and lends a sweet nutty flavor, complimenting the sweet flavor of the cooked scallion roots. These would be the perfect addition to any tempura basket or fritto misto. So the enxt time you trim the ends off of your scallions (or leeks, it works for leeks too), keep them around for a little fried treat.

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