Do you dread chopping onions for a recipe? This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to chop an onion in minutes!
One of my plans for the new year involves learning to cook. I mean REALLY learning to cook. It's time to get into the nitty-gritty of kitchen fundamentals - knife skills, sauces, braising, searing...the list is endless. My theory is that the more comfortable I become with basic techniques, the more adept I will become at whipping up basic and gourmet dishes, using flavor combinations that appeal to my family and me. Also, I'm a bit of geek and this kind of thing is right up my alley.
And so, I am introducing a new series on this blog, simply titled "How-To...". Each Saturday afternoon, I will post a new technique or important piece of cooking information so that you and I can become masters of our kitchens together...or something like that. I will start with the fundamentals, such as how to chop an onion, and will gradually progress to more advanced techniques. I figure you will keep me honest, adding your own ideas and tricks in the comment section.
How to chop an onion:
Whether you are dicing an onion to include in a mirepoix (mixture of onions, carrots, and celery) for a sauce or soup, or chopping it for use in a stir-fry, it is important that the onion pieces are a uniform size to ensure even cooking.
What does it mean when a recipe calls for a ½-inch dice and how is this achieved? Half-inch dice means that each piece is square and ½-inch long on each side. To achieve this, each cut, whether horizontal or vertical, must be ½-inch from the previous cut. The same reasoning follow for ¼-inch dice.
For your safety and ease of cutting, use a sharp chef's knife. A dull knife is more likely to slip and cause injury. A small knife will not allow you to make smooth cuts through the onion. Eight- and 10-inch chefs' knives are, by far, the most utilized cooking utensils in my kitchen.
The pictures below do not show me holding the onion because I was pressing the shutter of the camera, steadying a board to bounce light, and holding the knife. I only have so many hands, people! In each of these steps, be sure you are using your non-knife hand to hold the onion steady, curling your fingers under so that your knuckles are closest to the knife.
Using a sharp chef's knife, cut off the tip of the onion. Turn the onion so that the flat, cut section rests steadily on the cutting board and cut the onion in half through the root.
Using your hands, peel the brown skin off of each onion half.
Set the onion cut-side down on the board and cut 3 to 4 horizontal slices through the onion, starting at the bottom. Do not cut through the root.
Face the root of the onion away from you, place the tip of your knife at the root end, and cut vertical slices through the onion.
Turn the root of the onion to face right or left (depending on which hand you use to cut) and make vertical slices across the onion, working towards the root.
You should now have even pieces of onion, ready to use in your recipe.