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Chinese Toon leaves range in color from a dark green, crimson, to deep purple depending on the variety. The branches produce five to ten pairs of long leaflets which are without lobes or serrated edges. The leaves also offer a slight onion-like aroma when fresh, and impart a bolder onion flavor when cooked. Chinese Toon leaves are best when consumed young and tender, however they still must be boiled or blanched before consumption. Stir-fried Chinese Toon leaves combined with eggs is one of the most common culinary applications.
Chinese Toon leaves are available year-round.
Chinese Toon leaves are botanically classified as Toona sinensis within the Meliaceae family. The plant is also known as Chinese Toon shoot, Chinese cedar, Chinese mahogany, and Red Toon. These leaves can also be grown as a micro-vegetable, where the shoots and tender young leaves resemble a young tomato plant. Chinese Toon leaves are native to northern and eastern China. Botanists have been aware of the plant since the mid 1700s, but believed it was introduced into Europe in the late 1860s.