If you’re like me, you’ve chopped many an onion in your day. Onions are probably one of the most popular ingredients on the planet. Even though they can make you cry and can carry a very distinctive scent, for ages, those who have appreciated good food have turned to the onion time and time again. I truly love onions. I’m not sure those around me enjoy the fact that I love onions, but that’s never stopped me from eating them.
Through the years, I’ve made quite the mess on my cutting board while attempting to chop the onions I’ve used in whatever it was I was including them into. Whether it be my famous homemade tomato sauce or my fantabulous omelette, I never quite grasped how to go about properly chopping an onion. And I’ll tell you, those cooking shows in TV don’t help. Seeing the hands of a master chef fly across a cutting board, only to leave behind the perfect pile of onion pieces. That kind of thing makes me simmer. No pun intended.
Well, the days of wondering how to do things properly are behind me. I’ve finally learned how to chop an onion like the pros do and I’m here to demonstrate. I’ll type what I know and even offer some nice photos to walk through what’s happening.
I went out yesterday and purchased a few nice sweet onions specifically for this demonstration. There’s nothing special about my onion other than it being in fairly good shape. It’s medium size, so it’s easy to handle. Also, just to keep things real, I placed my new chef’s knife behind the onion to indicate which type of knife is supposed to be used for an operation like this. It’s the chef’s knife. Hands down.
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Cutting the Onion in Half
In order to chop the onion properly, we need to adhere to a few industry trade secrets. I guess you could call them tips, but since not many folks out there know how to do this without the onion completely falling apart, I’ll leave them as secrets.
The first secret is to cut the onion lengthwise, from top to bottom, or from tip to tip.
The reason cutting the onion in half like this is important is because we need the onion to stay intact. We need each half to remain as a whole piece, as opposed to having nothing to bind them. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, cut an onion in half and look at the root end. You’ll see that, on that end, all the layers of the onion converge as one and become a solid. That solid area is what holds everything together as we continue through and begin chopping. You may be able to see what I’m referring to in this next photo.
The root end of the onion is at the bottom. Also, notice how I trimmed both ends off? I removed a nice portion of the top and did the same for the root, making sure there was some solid left.
Peeling the Onion
This is easy. What we need to do next is to peel the onion. This is where I get frustrated because I always feel as though I’m peeling away way too much material. The outer layer is thick and since that layer is usually the one that needs to go, it’s a lot to lose.
Cutting Onion Into Planks
When you begin chopping an onion, you need to cut slices almost all the way through. You begin at the top end and slice toward the root end, making sure not to slice too far. I’d say cutting through until you’re a half inch away from the root is good. As you can see in the next photo, I already cut all the planks and then placed the knife back into the onion, just to demonstrate what it’s supposed to look like at this point.
Cutting Onion Into Sticks
Next, we need to slice the onion vertically into what’s referred to as “sticks.” These slices run perpendicular with the previous slices and are performed so each stick is as square as possible. Since the chop I’m going after is fairly course, each stick is almost a half inch thick.
Chopping the Onion
Now comes the fun part. We get to chop the onion. Since we already cut in two directions, we need to now cut in the final direction. This cut will run across all the sticks and will leave us with nice chopped pieces of onion.
Dicing the Root End
Now, you may be asking what to do about the root end that we haven’t cut all the way through yet. Well, first, I’ll show you what that root end looks like before we process it.
All we need to do at this point is to dice up this end, making it into the same sized squares as we did with all the rest. Below, you’ll see the final product of this area.
The Final Chopped Onion
Now that we’ve got everything all cut up the way we’d like, all we need to do is scoop up all the pieces into a pile and move onto the next task, whatever that may be. This, my friends, is how to chop an onion!
Now, just to let you know, there are more methods used to chop onions. I’m exploring these and may actually prefer some in the future. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to check out these links below.
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