Different Types of Onions and How to Use Them in Your Cooking

Different Types of Onions and How to Use Them in Your Cooking

Are you using the same onions every time you cook a dish. Well, there are plenty of members of the onion family, so let's talk about them today and how you might use them to mix up your dishes a little bit.

Usually, when people get ready to cook a dish with onions, they go for the old standby, the yellow onion. Yellow onions have a nice balance between pungent and sweet. They hold up really well when you cook them and keep their shape. That's the reason that most people will use these common yellow onions in just about any dish that calls for onions.

But maybe when you're at the store, you've also seen white onions. What are these good for. Well, you can cook with white onions. They're more pungent, but one of the reasons people love white onions is because they're a little more tender than the yellow ones. So, they're strong, but they're not so hard to bite into like the yellow onions are. These are great in raw dishes. That's why people use white onions in things like salsas because it gets that pungency without being too difficult to chew.

What about the purple onions. These happen to be my personal favorite. Why do I like them so much. Because purple onions are mild and sweet, and they're so good to use in raw dishes. I use these often in my salads. I love to put them on top of cooked vegetables and just let them soften a little bit. They're very sweet. They're not nearly as strong as the other ones. You can cook with red onions if you want to, but they tend to lose their color and they're not nearly as strong. But if you're not an onion fan and you don't want a lot of strong flavor, you might want to try these in one of your dishes.

Now, the other thing about onions people always ask is how do I cut one. Well, let me show you the best way to do this. People are always concerned about getting tears in their eyes when they cut onions, and I have tried every method to not cry when I eat onions. So, I've tried putting an unlit match in my mouth, I've tried goggles, I've tried putting them in the refrigerator. But I think the best thing to do is to learn how to cut an onion and how to do it quickly, and then you don't really have to worry about too many tears.

When you look at your onion, it's got two ends. It's got the root end and the hairy end. Generally, what you want to do when you cut your onion is just to cut these two ends off. Then, you're left with the onion half. Now, when you're cutting your onion, a lot of people like to cut it in this way to get these slices. That's fine if you're gonna use it raw, maybe on a sandwich or on top of a salad. But if you're gonna cook an onion, the best way to slice it is really from the top to the bottom. Remember, I had my root end and my stem end, and you're gonna slice it this way. The reason that you slice it this way if you're going to cook them is because when you do that, your slices are more even in size, so they'll cook more evenly when you're putting them into your cooked dish. It's a minor point, but it does make a difference when you're cooking. The same technique applies to yellow, white, or red onions.

The other member of the onion family that people use often is garlic. Here, I've got a garlic head. The easiest way to open up a clove of garlic is very simple. Take your garlic clove, put it on your cutting board, lay your blade of your knife flat on your garlic, and carefully give it a good whack with the heel of your hand. When you do that, it just loosens the skin, and you can just peel it. You can cut off the little end, and you've got a perfect clove of garlic. You can then dice it for your dishes.

Another member of the onion family that you may not use very often is a shallot. Shallots are a wonderful blend between garlic and onion. They're not that strong, so you can cook with them, but they're also delicious raw. These are wonderful in salads, and when you cut into a shallot, it's gonna look very much like a mini onion. You can cut off the top and the bottom, remove the papery skin, and what you end up with are things that look very much like very small onions, but they're not nearly as strong. They just add a wonderful flavor to your dishes.

There are a couple of other members of the onion family that I want to talk about. One is the green onion, also known as spring onions. These are delicious raw and can be used in stir-fries as well. The only thing you really need to do is to just cut off the root end. They make a nice garnish if you have soup because they add a nice fresh flavor right at the very end.

The last one I want to talk about is the leek. This is probably the least used of the onion family, but it adds a wonderful unique onion-like taste to your dishes. To prepare a leek, you're going to want to cut off the root end and primarily use just the white part. Leeks tend to get very muddy inside, so you have to be really careful when you clean them. The easiest thing to do is to cut them in half, separate the pieces, give them a quick rinse under water, and you can be sure to get all that mud out.

Next time you have a recipe that calls for an onion, instead of just automatically grabbing that standard yellow onion, pick up a white onion, red onion, leek, garlic, or shallot, and you may just come up with a unique dish that's all your own.

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