Also Known as
Onions may bring a tear to your eye, and pungency to your breath, but they will most certainly bring delight to your taste buds. The onion, known scientifically as Allium cepa, is, on the surface, a humble brown, white or red, paper-thin skinned bulb; yet, despite its plain looks, has an intense flavor and is a beloved part of the cuisine of almost every region of the world. The word onion comes from the Latin word unio for "single," or "one," because the onion plant produces a single bulb, unlike its cousin, the garlic, that produces many small bulbs. The name also describes the onion bulb when cut down the middle; it is a union of many separate, concentrically arranged layers.
Onions range in size, color and taste depending upon their variety. There are generally two types of large, globe-shaped onions, classified as spring/summer or storage onions. The former class includes those that are grown in warm weather climates and have characteristic mild or sweet tastes. Storage onions are grown in colder weather climates and, after harvesting, are dried out for a period of several months, attaining dry, crisp skins. They generally have a more pungent flavor and are usually named by their color: white, yellow or red.
Onions, being versatile in use can be - chopped, sliced, fried, cubed, grated etc. and used accordingly.
Select a sharp knife. Before you begin, peel off as many layers of papery skin as you can, the better to make your first cut without your knife glancing off the surface. Pull off any hairy roots, too. Place the onion on its side on a chopping board. Hold your knife comfortably, with your forefinger running down one side of the blade and your thumb pressed against the opposite side. With one fell swoop, slide the knife down and away from you, slicing off the top half inch of the onion. Turn the onion so it rests on the newly cut flat surface. Starting at the center of the root end, slice the onion in half. Peel off any remaining skin. Then make 1/2-inch cuts perpendicular to the first set of cuts. The onion will fall apart into neat, 1/2-inch dice. You can chop white onions in the same way.
Sliced onions can be fried in oil or ghee medium. It can be shallow fried or deep fried, as the recipe calls for. For shallow frying, sauté the onions on a medium flame and keep stirring till it turns light brown in colour and becomes transparent. Deep frying basically, involves frying onions till brown. Care should be taken to avoid burning or blackening of onions. Fried onions add great taste as a base or are good for garnishing on savoury dishes.
Select a sharp knife. Before you begin, peel off as many layers of papery skin as you can, the better to make your first cut without your knife glancing off the surface. Cut off the root ends and pull off any hairy roots, too. Rub the onion against the grater and grate it thinly or thickly as desired. You can grate all varieties of onions like white onion, etc. as per the recipe requirement.
Select a sharp knife. Before you begin, peel off as many layers of papery skin as you can, the better to make your first cut without your knife glancing off the surface. Pull off any hairy roots, too. Place the onion on its side on a chopping board and chop it into equal cubes - large or small as desired.
Onion powder is made from dehydrated onions. Dice and dehydrate an onion, grind it, and store it in an airtight glass container. It can be used in any recipe that requires fresh onion and is excellent when added as a dry rub or in a marinade. Onion powder is a terrific complement to many foods: Include a dash in gravies and sauces or add to breads: it is a tasty addition to butter. Sprinkle over salads or Stir into soups and chowders.
Before you begin, peel off as many layers of papery skin as you can. Cut off the root ends and pull off any hairy roots, too. To make slices, cut the onion into half. Cut into whole round slices by placing the onion halve vertically across the cutting board using a sharp knife. Use as required.
Select a sharp chef's knife. Before you begin, peel off as many layers of papery skin as you can, the better to make your first cut without your knife glancing off the surface. Pull off any hairy roots, too. Place the onion on its side on a chopping board. Hold your knife comfortably, with your forefinger running down one side of the blade and your thumb pressed against the opposite side, chop it triangular in cross section.
Before you begin, peel off as many layers of papery skin as you can, the better to make your first cut without your knife glancing off the surface. Cut off the root ends and pull off any hairy roots, too. Place the onion on a chopping board and cut into 2 halves vertically. Place the cut side down and make long vertical cuts using a sharp knife. Slice thin or thick as per the recipe requirement.
How to Select
Choose onions with tightly closed necks that are absolutely dry, avoiding those with a thick, woody center in the neck. The skin should be bright and shiny. If you notice dark, powdery patches under the skin, pass it up as this is an indication of a common mold which will eventually spoil the flesh.
Avoid those that are sprouting or have signs of mold. In addition, onions of inferior quality often have soft spots, moisture at their neck, and dark patches, which may all be indications of decay. Onions are available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, and dehydrated forms.
· A kitchen is incomplete without the distinctively pungent smell and taste of onions filling out the flavors of almost every type of cuisine imaginable.
· If cutting onions irritates your eyes, there are a few tricks that you can employ. Chill the onions for an hour or so before cutting or soak in water after peeling the skin. Use a very sharp knife and always cut the onions while standing; that way your eyes will be as far away as possible. If cutting onions really makes you cry, consider wearing glasses or goggles.
· Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, avocado and jalapeno for an all-in-one spicy salsa dip. They are also a wonderful addition to soups and adds fiery taste when seasoned.
· Coated with gram flour and fried, the Onion Bhajiya makes an excellent snack.
· Sautéed chopped onions are so versatile that they can be added to most any vegetable dish.
· Enjoy classic Italian salad-sliced onions, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil.
· Onions can be used, usually chopped or sliced, in almost every type of food, including cooked foods and fresh salads, and as a spicy garnish; they are rarely eaten on their own but usually act as accompaniment to the main course.
· Onions pickled in vinegar are eaten as a snack.
· Onions are a staple food in India, and are therefore fundamental to Indian cooking. They are commonly used as a base for curries, or made into a paste and eaten as a main course or as a side dish.
How to Store
Onions should be stored in a cool, dark, dry location and spread out for optimum air circulation. To do this, either place them in a wire hanging basket or a perforated bowl with a raised base so that air can circulate underneath. All onions should be stored away from potatoes, as they will absorb their moisture and ethylene gas, causing them to spoil more readily.
Cut, raw onion leftovers should be tightly wrapped tightly in plastic bag or sealed in a container and refrigerated to be used within a few days.
· Onions are a very good source of vitamin C, chromium and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of manganese, molybdenum, vitamin B6, and folate, potassium, phosphorous and copper.
· If tears come to your eyes whenever you slice an onion, you'll be glad to know that your tears are not shed in vain. The very compounds that give onions their pungency, taste and smell have been identified as substances that may fight cancer.
· Onion is said to possess expectorant properties. It has been used as a food remedy for centuries in cold, cough, bronchitis and influenza. Equal amount of onion juice and honey is beneficial.
· Onions are very much valuable for people having high cholesterol levels or suffering from heart disorders.