How to Chop an Onion

By gourmetm, Aug 30, 2011 | | |
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    Chefs can spend many hours of the week in the kitchen chopping onions. While it is a common kitchen chore, many people are intimidated by the task. Luckily, anyone can easily learn to properly chop an onion, and without a tear in sight. To begin, gather an unpeeled onion, a cutting board and a chef’s knife that is at least twice as long as the onion. Make sure your working space is well-ventilated. It is the build-up of sulfuric compounds that causes tears.
    1. Place the onion on the clean cutting board. Place the vegetable so that both ends – the root and the stem – are visible.
    2. Holding the onion firmly, position the blade of the knife so that once you begin cutting, it will slice the onion vertically through both the stem and root ends.
    3. Begin the cut, making sure the blade is lined up properly. Do not complete the cut, but instead move your hand, now holding the knife handle, to the top of the blade. This will not only give you more force behind your cut, but will also ensure that you will not cut yourself if the knife slips.
    4. Continue the cut, slicing the onion in half.
    5. Turn each half cut-side down and cut the top and bottom 1/2 inches from the onion halves. You can discard the cut ends, or place them aside to be used in a stock.
    6. Peel the halves. Waiting until now to peel them is easier than attempting to do it before cutting the onion.
    7. Chop each onion half by drawing the knife through about three or four times horizontally, then again vertically.
    This method will leave you with uniform-sized cubes. Depending on how big you want the final cut slices, you can change the number of slices you make horizontally and vertically. If your recipe calls for other chopped vegetables as well, keep in mind that all vegetables should be the same size to ensure all ingredients are cooked throughout.

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  1. icmc6119
    I Like to Keep My Allium Cepa In The Cooler It Definately Keeps The Vision From Becoming Distorted When Weilding A Large Sharpened Steel Instrument Important When Time Is Of The Essence As For Cutting Styles There Is Many Different Uses For It My Pet Peeve Is When No One Has Instructed The Preparer To Remove The Root End From The Dish You Are Serving Not Very Palatable.
  2. steve tphc
    Here is my 5 cents worth. Work surfaces should be clean and sterile. Do not use a cutting board or vessels that can’t be made sterile in the dish washer. (Yea I am talking about the wood thing your fond of – it has to go,
    along with that wooden salad bowl, etc. Anything highly porous that can harbor bacteria should be a candidate for the thrift store.)
    Secondly, when cutting onions, wash them before they are paced on the cutting board.
    Thirdly, a very sharp knife will crush fewer cells in the wall of the onion that is being cut and thereby release fewer juices and subsequent fumes.
  3. emmbai90
    I don't know if my comment posted i can't see it but what it means by vertically is cut along the lines that you see on top of the onion, don't cut them all way though but just skim it across the lines with a chef knife then cut it across to get diced onion, for liquidized soups you don't need to do any more dicing, if you want finely diced onion then you need to dice over the onion to get nice finely diced onion, i suggest instead of using the heel of the knife that you use the slide back and forwards motion as it uses more of the knife and dices a lot faster when needing it fine and dices it a lot more evenly.
  4. deanswife
    I run a small fan to blow the onion fumes away from my work area. It keeps them from wafting upward into my face. Works perfectly. Also works for jalapeno and other hot peppers.
  5. lawrence
    Re Step #3
    I read this as a typo. I assumed it was meant to read "move your hand, NOT holding the knife handle"
    to mean keep holding the handle and move the other hand, that now makes sense.
    I agree with Cook Not Mad, you do need to read through several times, and a proof readers trick, is to read it backwards which picks up spelling mistakes you might miss because you "Know" what is next and you don't actually read it.
  6. cook not mad
    In regards to step #3 , I find the way it is explained confusing .
    "Do not complete the cut, but instead move your hand, now holding the knife handle, to the top of the blade. This will not only give you more force behind your cut, but will also ensure that you will not cut yourself if the knife slips."
    Are we using one hand or two hands ?, it reads like one hand but I think you mean two hands . I suggest before you publish " how to " articles that you proof read numerous times and try out your method by only doing what you have written . I spent many years writing manuals , recipes , procedures , policies etc. and I realized that you must put every movement or step in the document you are writing .
    Have a look at how the C.I.A explains techniques , they are pros . Like anything in the kitchen " practice makes perfect " Happy writing !
  7. bobbleheadbob
    Or you may grab one of your Stewards and show his this post,
    Happy July 4th.
  8. lawrence
    @oldarpanet, I totally agree, vertical cuts are safer and achieve the same end result.
    It took me two days in a kitchen to realise all the other chefs were just copying what they had been taught and never bothered to actually look at the structure of what they are cutting!
    I do use a mandolin occasionally, but TBH I can do it almost as quickly with a knife.
  9. oldarpanet
    I've pretty much given up on the horizontal cuts. Since the onion grows in layers, it is essentially "spiral-cut" by nature. Horizontal cuts are great for slicing hands and not much else. I also favor keeping the peel and root together for a better "handle."
  10. dileepadayan
    your way is correct, but if you can sent another photos