kitchen 101: how to dice an onion
I hate dicing onions. I don’t know if it’s because my eyes are crazy sensitive or if it’s because I wear glasses (or both!) but within 10 seconds of my first onion cut, the waterworks start. On TV, they always make it look like it’s just regular ole crying when you cut an onion, but regular crying doesn’t hurt. And man, does onion crying ever hurt. Ow. Ow. Ow. Even when I’m wearing my classy onion goggles, I still have issues.
The unfortunate thing about my onion issues (well, other than the searing, burning pain) is that onion is pretty much the most amazing flavor ever. I love onions. I use them as a base flavor in just about everything I make! I guess it’s the whole “every rose has it’s thorn” thing. To get that delicious, onion-y flavor, I have to sacrifice my comfort and tears.
Because I refuse to give up on onions, I’ve perfected my version of a speed-y dice. I chop up at least 4-5 onions a week, and this method really helps keep my tears to a minimum. I’m sure this isn’t the professional way to do it, but it’s my way, and it works! I make sure to use the natural layered structure of the onion to my advantage, which saves me a set of cuts. Here we go!
We’re going to work one half of the onion at a time. Using a sharp knife and steady grip, slice the onion in half from the root to the stalk.
I trim off the stalk ends of each half, and then peel off the top layer of the onion and toss it into the compost tin.
You should now have two, peeled onion halves with the roots still in tact.
Place one of the onion halves on a cutting board, and while holding the root end with curled fingers, make large cuts from the root end to the (formerly) stalk end. Don’t cut all the way through the root, we want to leave the onion attached. I usually start cutting in the middle, and then cut down each side.
Depending on the size of the dice you want, you can make these cuts big or small.
Rotate the onion half around, hold the root end with curled fingers (I actually tend to ram my nails into the root end for extra security) and then make small perpendicular cuts along the wide part of the onion.
As you slice, onion pieces should fall off into a pretty pile. Slice all the way to the root, then discard the root. Repeat steps three and four with the second half of the onion.
Some onion layers don’t like to separate, so I tend to just run my knife through the pile once or twice to make sure there aren’t any big chunks. It isn’t a necessary step, because the layers will separate once you’re cooking with them, but if you’re using the onion raw, it doesn’t hurt to give them one final run through with the knife.
And, you’re done!