As a kid whose family ate out pretty often at Chinese-American restaurants, I was fascinated—and somewhat unnerved—by scallion pancakes. How strange to see bright flecks of chopped scallions show up in pancakes—a food I knew to be fluffy, sweet, and covered in syrup. I eventually came around to the idea of savory pancakes, but my fascination with scallions has remained. Native to central Asia, they are at once crisp and tender, cooling and hot—perhaps that's why they travel so seamlessly between salads, soups and main dishes. Confusingly, the term scallion can refer to any number of green-stalked alliums that are harvested young, before their bulbs have a chance to develop. But while these varieties are used interchangeably, true scallions never form a large bulb, even when fully grown.