Slice an Onion Like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide with Visuals
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Recipes can vary widely in their instructions on how to slice onions. Phrases like "thinly-sliced," "thin-cut," "julienned," or "French-cut" all refer to the same end result: long, skinny slices of onion that are uniform in length and size.
Think of an onion as a globe, with the root end representing the South Pole and the top representing the North Pole. The onion contains natural lines, which look like the longitude lines on a map, running from North to South. To slice an onion thinly, follow these lines from top to bottom. Begin by removing the tip and the root of the onion, then slice the onion in half from pole to pole. Finally, slice each half, radial-style, angling your knife towards the center of the onion.
Although finding the correct angle of your knife can seem tricky at first, thin-slicing onions is simpler than it sounds. Check out our slideshow gallery of images to see the process step-by-step.
If you are more accustomed to slicing onions into rings or half-moons, cutting along the lines of longitude may feel foreign. At the same time, cutting your onions this way will make you feel like the real deal. It also has a few unexpected perks compared to the other methods.
Firstly, by slicing the onion along the natural lines, all pieces will be approximately the same length. This will give your dish a neater and more uniform appearance, which is appealing to the eyes. It also ensures uniform cooking and texture, as each piece gets cooked through at the same time. Lastly, thin-sliced onions retain more texture and resist becoming soggy, while rings or half-moons can turn mushy.
Is it necessary to thin-slice your onions in a particular way if the end result is spaghetti sauce? No, of course not. Regardless of your slicing style, you will enjoy your homemade dinner either way. However, extra attention to onion preparation helps elevate you towards mastery in the kitchen.
To create perfect onion slices, you will need a sharp chef's knife, a cutting board, and patience. Slice off enough of the onion until all the outer papery layers are exposed, revealing the onion's distinctive rings.
Preparing an onion for slicing:
- Optional step: Remove the root end to facilitate thinner, more precise cuts. Leaving the root attached offers more stability during slicing.
- Cut the onion in half while standing it on one of the cut sides.
- Gently remove the papery skin from both halves.
- Place one half on the counter in a dome-like shape. Slice radially from the top end towards the root end, gradually increasing the angle of the cut as you move towards the onion's center. It's unnecessary to cut all the way through the center with the first few slices.
- Once you reach the center, tip the onion over to simplify slicing the remaining half.
- Slice the onion's other half in the same way as before.
- Be mindful as you approach the onion's center to prevent your knife from slipping, keeping your fingers clear of the way if possible. If you opted to leave the root attached, remove it after completing all slices.
- Follow the same steps for the other onion half.
- Updated version originally published in February 2010.
Tags: #onions #cooking #foodprep.
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