How To Chop An Onion

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Onions. If they didn't exist already, we'd have to invent them. Otherwise, we would not be able to make most of the dishes we do, as they are a base ingredient common to a great many recipes. So what's the best way to dice an onion? Well, there may not be a "best" way, since there are a number of ways that people can accomplish this. But there are bad ways to chop an onion with a knife. Ways that are less safe, or messy and inefficient. There are even bad knives, that contribute to bad ways of cutting an onion.
Victorinox Forschner
10" serrated chef's knife.
Even cuts Ginsu knives.
To cut an onion safely, you should use a sharp chef's or slicing knife. This helps insure you will cut through the soft layers of the onion, and not just cause them to slip under your fingers, causing you to lose your grip. Or if you're worried about safety, a fine serrated chef or slicing knife is excellent. Even a good serrated tomato knife can do, on occasion. For onions, it is better to use a cheap serrated knife (if you have to), than a cheap plain edge.

There's worse, though. There's mangling an onion, using kitchen fad gadgets, like a "Slap Chop", or a food processor. Not unlike garlic, if you're crushing and slicing an onion at disparate angles (as these gadgets do), you will get unwanted results. You'll end up releasing bitter onion juices, which can have a negative impact on the flavour of what you're using the onion in. In the raw state, you can see and taste the difference if you compare methods of preparation. (Tip: If you are sensitive to onion gases, wear swimming goggles while chopping onions).

Below, I demonstrate two good methods of dicing an onion in even-sized pieces. The reason for showing two methods is because some may not be comfortable using the method I use (Method #1). Though it shouldn't be a problem, because with your palm resting on the onion, at no point are your fingers in the way of the knife blade. The idea is, once you've cut the onion in half widthways, you create slices across the onion, then cut lengthwise, and the onion will fall into square pieces. (I recommend holding only half the slices at a time, to make things safer).

In Method #2, you do not cut the onion in half widthways. Instead, you create slices across, as in Method #1, but then you stack half the slices up, and chop that into dice. (I'm not sure this is any safer, because the stacks can shift as you are slicing them).

1. Start by slicing onion in half
 lengthways. (Showing is the
root end). 
2. Keeping knuckles resting
against the side of the blade,
with the tips of your fingers
curled inwards, cut off the
root end.

3. Showing root end cut off.
4. In the same way, cut off
the opposite end. 

5. Showing opposite end cut off.
6. Peel off the skin.

7. Chopping Method #1:
With palm resting firmly on
top of the onion, slice in half
widthwise. Start slicing the
onion with the tip of your knife.
You should arrive near the blade
of the knife when finished.
8. Slice across the onion,
approx. 1/4" slices.

9. Showing first crossways slice
10. Showing onion sliced crossways.
(To dice using Method #1, cut
across the length of half the slices.
Repeat for the other half).

11. Chopping Method #2:
Skip Step #7, go straight to
Step #8. Stack half the slices
from Step #10 (as shown).
12. Slice across the top of the
stack to create a dice.

13. Showing one quarter of the
onion diced into squares.
14. Dicing the other half of
the onon. Remember to keep
your knuckles against the side
of the blade, and fingers curled in.
15. Showing the onion
fully diced. 


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