Japan boasts a wide variety of domestic vegetable, however, some single vegetables have as many as 100 variations. For example, there are 68 types of negi cultivated in Japan!
So what is negi? Is it a spring onion, green onion, scallion or leek?
Well, it's technically a spring onion, green onion and scallion!
All these onions belong to the Allium fistulosum species of onion and differ on their age. What is known as scallions is generally harvested earliest followed by green onions and spring onions. Because they are more mature, spring onions tend to have a stronger flavor.
Be careful not to mistake negi for leeks! Leeks are a different species of onion called Allium ampeloprasum which are typically thicker and have a subtler, more garlic-like taste compared to the other onions.
Regional Onions in Japan
There are two main regional differences, in Eastern Japan "nefuka negi" is grown and the white part is eaten. In Western Japan "ha negi" is grown and the leafy part is eaten.
Ainu Onions from Hokkaido
Ainu onions are a type of Allium ochotense - a Siberian type of onion. This onion is ranked #4 in production in Japan.
Bent Green Onions from Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture
The surrounding rice paddies have high groundwater which makes it hard to grow green onions straight, as a result unique bent onions were grown.
Red Onions from Shirosato Town, Ibaraki Prefecture
These onions are cultivated from the Akutsu area of Katsura Village and are sometimes referred to as "Akutsu negi". The sheath has a redish-purpleish colour.
Koshitsu Green Onions from Konan City, Aichi Prefecture
A Kansai and Kanto fusion onion species. It was first cultivated in the middle of the Edo Period and was given as a gift to the Shogunate.
Kujo Green Onions from Kyoto Prefecture
A representative variety of a leafy green onion. They were first cultivated in the 4th year of the Wado Period
Kanon Green Onions from Hiroshima Prefecture
An improved Kujo Green onion variety that was first cultivated in the Meiji Era.
About the author:
Hi I'm Anna, currently a 5th year JET (from Australia) working in Himeji. I love exploring Japan and finding new things to experience and try, particularly sweets!