Ever dependable, onions form the foundation of the soups, stir-fries, and South India fare that come out of my kitchen. Yellow onions acts as a full-flavored workhorse. Red onions add a splash of color, while white ones exude a bit of tang. Sweet onions are the mildest of the bunch and provide a pleasant punch in salads.
A tip before chopping: If you tend to tear up when prepping onions, refrigerate them for 30 minutes to reduce the amount of sulfur that’s released into the air.
To remove the skin:
Cut off both ends of the onion.
Place either end on a cutting board and slice the onion in half. (This makes it easier to remove the skin.)
Pull off the skin.
Place one half of the onion face down on your cutting board. Place your hand over the stem end of the onion. Place your knife at a 45-degree angle at the root end of the onion and slice out the core.
Place your hand at the root end of the onion to hold it in place. Curl in the tips of your fingers. Hold your knife perpendicular to the cutting board and make thin slices across the onion.
To roughly chop:
Place one half of the onion face down on your cutting board with the root end intact. With the root end facing away from you, place one hand on the side of the onion. With your other hand, hold the knife perpendicular to the cutting board and, starting at the end opposite your hand, slice three-fourths of the way into the onion towards the root end, leaving the root end intact. (This keeps the onion from falling apart.) Continue slicing across the onion, leaving a half inch or so between each incision.
Turn the onion 90 degrees and slice across the onion, again leaving about a half inch between each cut. This will produce roughly chopped pieces.
Place one half of the onion face down on your cutting board with the root end intact. Place one hand at the root end. With your other hand, hold the knife parallel to the cutting board and slice three-fourths of the way through the onion, leaving the root end intact. Continue slicing the onion with the knife parallel to the cutting board, moving up and away from the cutting board. Leave a quarter inch between each incision.
Turn the onion 90 degrees so the root end faces away from you. Hold the knife perpendicular to the cutting board and slice three-fourths of the way into the onion, leaving the root end intact. Slice across the onion, leaving a quarter inch between each cut.
Rotate the onion 90 degrees. Again, hold the knife perpendicular to the cutting board and slice across the onion to produce small cubes.
You can use the same basic technique to prep shallots. Just swap out a paring knife for your chef’s knife and follow the steps outlined above.
This article was originally published on WholeFoodsMarketCooking.com
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Susan developed a passion for flavorful food as a child. Under her mother's wing, she learned to prepare everyday Kerala dishes.
In her twenties, Susan moved to Tokyo in search of adventure where she embraced Japanese culinary traditions. There she learned to value individual ingredients and tapped into the power of plating.
Once back in the U.S., Susan earned a Masters Degree in Public Policy. The hypnotic rhythms of the kitchen (mincing, chopping, mixing) drew her to Kendall College in 2005 where she trained as a chef. After a foray in the food industry, she started Cardamom Kitchen. Her mission is to promote all the benefits of home cooking. Susan leads cooking classes, and has taught at Whole Foods Market, the Fearless Food Kitchen, Gilda's Club, Common Threads, Swedish Covenant, farmer's markets and provides private instruction for children and adults. She also hosts a Culinary Tour of Devon Avenue, Chicago's Little India. Susan created and managed the "Kitchen Basics" column for Whole Foods Market.