The stalks produce small red bulbs underground. Above ground, they look the same as Western chives; even the flowers are the same, balls of soft purplish spikes.
The Japanese will refer to this in English as a “type of green onion”, whereas we would be more precise and say “chives with a teeny red bulb under ground.”
Asatsuki is used as a garnish in Japanese cooking, not as an ingredient.
There are actually many varieties of chives grown in Japan including:
- Allium schoenoprasum L. (called “Seiyou asatsuki”), which are “standard” European chives;
- Allium schoenoprasum L. var. schoenoprasum (called “Ezo negi”);
- Allium schoenoprasum L. var. yezomonticola Hara (called “Hime ezo negi”.)