‘In The Kitchen’ with Kathy Gold, How to Chop and Slice an Onion
Cooking is a fundamental experience shared by most everyone in the world at one time or another, its essence provides a source of bringing people together in the form of sustenance as well in sharing and celebration. Understanding and knowing Technique in food preparation does not guarantee an accomplished cook but it does however, provide the benefits of maximizing time, insuring consistency and uniformity, as well as assisting food ingredients in bringing out the best flavor. Beyond all, learning to prepare ingredients in the correct way can be lots of fun especially if you are ‘In The Kitchen’ with Kathy Gold.
Do you love to cook? Have you ever wished you knew even the basics of prepping the most commonly used foods such as chopping or slicing an onion? Well then you are in luck today as Chef Gold, Owner of ‘In The Kitchen’ Cooking School in Haddonfield, New Jersey has graciously agreed to provide you a lesson on this easy but among the most frequently overlooked of basic cooking techniques. So, before you lop the ends off both sides of your onion, or peel the papery pieces of golden brown colored skin right over the cutting board you plan to chop or slice your onion on, join in on the fun and learn by following and observing then you can begin practice readying for your very next meal. Now before we begin, it is always important to use a sharp knife, and to use it properly. If you are interested in learning more about using a knife for chopping and dicing and slicing I noticed that Kathy is offering a couple of upcoming classes in this technique so if you are interested you can check that out on her web site here.
Ready? Lets begin. The onion has two ends, one, the pointy bloom, the other end, the furry root. The objective is to keep the furry root intact, this will assist you in maintaining your onion in one piece as you move from the first cuts to the next until the final chopping or slicing step. The process, once mastered will save you time and the result will provide you more uniform size onion pieces that will look nicer in your food as well as enable even cooking in your dish.
Peel off the easily removed papery outer skin of the onion into a small bowl so the brittle pieces do not break or fly about and get into your prepped onion.
Observe the pointy blossom above.
Snip the pointy blossom off with your knife.
Then your onion will sit flat and not be rolling and wobbling all about when you cut. Notice there will still be a thin layer of outer skin on the onion, leave that for now.
Tip in your knife angled with the board as shown below.
Resting your onion on a flat surface cut straight down through the center of the furry root cutting the onion in half.
Once you have cut the onion in half through the furry root you will have two intact halves.
Remember the remaining bit of outer skin I told you not to worry about a few steps above, well now, as shown below you can easily peel back and remove this, trimming off a bit of the hair while leaving the root end intact. Incidentally, the skin piece as Kathy demonstrates below is sometimes left temporarily attached in the process of teaching younger children how to chop an onion.
Below you have a shiny, peeled half of an onion, notice the lines as they may serve as a good guide for when you are chopping or slicing your onion.
Next, for standard size chop as shown below, make two horizontal cuts up to but not through the root end. (for dicing into smaller pieces you will simply make more horizontal or vertical cuts)
One horizontal cut through all the way through stopping before reaching the root end.
And a second horizontal cut all the way through stopping before reaching the root end.
Above is what your onion will look like. It will be intact in one piece trisected into thirds.
Placing your onion with the completed horizontal cuts back onto a hard surface, following the curve of the onion, make 5 vertical cuts through the onion layers across the top all the way through but once again, not through the root end.
Once your horizontal and vertical cuts are made, your cut onion will appear like a blooming flower as above. You’ve made it so far, and we’re almost done and ready for the real action to begin. Observe Kathy’s hands below, her fingers are curved under with the knife using her knuckles as her guide. Kathy refers to the curled knuckles as using your ‘piano fingers’ curling them under just like when you took those piano lessons as a child, your thumb on one side and your baby finger on the opposite side. Ready? Go.
All right go on now and follow Kathy’s lead, begin chopping the onion all the way across just up to the root end.
See how easily the pieces all fall onto the board in even sizes.
Keep chopping until you get to the end and below you can see all that is left is the fuzzy root that held the onion intact, completing the job quickly and easily.
Once your onion is chopped if you later decide on smaller pieces or a dice using the angle of your knife you can bring all of the chopped onion together into a small section and chop to achieve desired size. Hooray! You’ve done it! Congratulations!
Slicing An Onion:
Above we learned the proper technique for chopping an onion but since we cut the onion in half through the fuzzy root giving us two halves we still have one half remaining. Chef Gold will show us how to slice an onion below.
Cut off the fuzzy root near the tip.
Then, keeping your ‘piano fingers’ curved, using your knuckles as your guide, follow the grain slicing the onion thinly and on an angle. Alternatively, you may also slice the onion within the straight lines following the grain of the onion as shown below.
Chef Gold is cutting along the grain on an angle, while keeping the onion in place on the cutting board.
Keep slicing moving across the onion.
Notice how Chef Gold is slicing nice, thin pieces, resting the palm of her hand on the flat surface and keeping the onion in place.
And done. Congratulations. Now all it takes is a little practice and before you know it you will master of art of chopping and slicing an onion just like a Pro.
Above you see your chopped half of an onion and sliced half of an onion. In the front, you see the pretty purple color bulb, the shallot. The shallot is chopped almost identical to an onion with a couple separate tips and next week Chef Gold will share the technique: How to Chop a Shallot. Be sure to pick up a couple of shallots on your market trip for next week so you can follow right along. A big Thank You to Chef Kathy Gold ‘In The Kitchen’ for sharing her expertise with us. Wishing you lots of fun chopping and slicing. See You soon.