Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chopping Onions

If you watch cooking shows you have seen this method for cutting onions. It is, the chef tells us, the only proper way to dice onions, and it is “super easy.” He is full of crap. Making a very similar series of cuts in a different sequence is vastly easier, faster, produces precisely the same results, and presents far less chance of cutting yourself.

First chop off the head of the onion as shown in picture #1, but also chop off the roots in precisely the same way. Chop the onion in half as shown in #3 except, of course, you won’t be cutting through the roots.

Now remove the outer skin from each half of the onion. This is the first part of it being easier, because having cut off the root there’s nothing holding the skin on and it’s a lot easier to remove it. I remove the first layer under the skin as well, since it tends to be a bit tough. Now for the dicing part.

What they show next is a set of horizontal cuts that must be made very carefully because they are being made underneath and very close to your hand, which is flat on top of the onion. Note also that it says, “Try to keep the cuts the same width apart.” Not easy when you can’t see what the hell you’re doing.

A second set of cuts is then made vertically, also with care to keep them carefully the same width apart, and finally a third set of cuts is made across the rest, providing the diced onion. That’s three sets of cuts, two of which need to be made very painstakingly.

Now the better way is to simply make a set of crosscuts, the same direction as the cut you made chopping off the root and head, which result in slices of onion. Hold those slices together as you make the cuts so that they are “flying in formation” when you are done and look like a half onion.

Now turn that assembly 90 degrees and make a series of cuts which result is diced onion. With each cut angle the knife just a bit so that you are making the cut nearly perpendicular to the surface into which the knife is cutting. At the center the knife will be vertical and at each end it will be angled slightly outward.

You now have the same results with only two sets of cuts that the silly chef achieved with three sets of cuts. You didn’t look as good as television, but then you aren’t on television; you are simply making dinner.

Oh yes, how do you avoid tears while chopping onions? Put the onion in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before chopping it.

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