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Fat Guy

Do you cheat when you chop onions?

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Please elaborate.

The illustration on the right shows how most people make the vertical cuts. With the root away from them, the tip of the knife is used.

The drawing on the left shows how I learnt to make the same cuts. The root facing me, and the heal of the knife is used. The heal never reaches (touches) the board, leaving the root in tact and holding the slices together.

By using the heal I have more leverage, and can make the cuts more rapidly.

Hope this make sense.

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Please elaborate.

The illustration on the right shows how most people make the vertical cuts. With the root away from them, the tip of the knife is used.

The drawing on the left shows how I learnt to make the same cuts. The root facing me, and the heal of the knife is used. The heal never reaches (touches) the board, leaving the root in tact and holding the slices together.

By using the heal I have more leverage, and can make the cuts more rapidly.

Hope this make sense.

It actually made more sense before you explained it!

"the heal of the knife is used" and "the heal never reaches (touches) the board" ... i guess i'm misunderstanding but it seems contradictory.

I'd like to try your fast way (have always done the slow way) but suspect it will only be fast if i do it right.

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ChefCrash, when employing your "fast way" it seems that you would never completely cut through the onion, especially at the root end. Or am I missing something? Is the idea that you don't really need to cut through that part of the onion owing to the natural divisions it will have as it approaches the "half way point"?

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The way we're taught by the professionals to chop onions is:

- Cut off the bud end

- Cut in half vertically

- Peel the halves

- Lay each half flat

- Make a series of vertical cuts

- Make a series of horizontal cuts

- Make a series of cross-cuts

It makes sense, of course. You're dealing with a three-dimensional object. You should have to cut it three times to get a good dice.

But there are a couple of additional factors that I take into consideration:

- I find the "Make a series of horizontal cuts" step to be particularly difficult and dangerous.

- An onion is not a solid block of matter but, rather, comes to us in a series of layers.

I've found that, if you just skip the horizontal cutting step, you still get a pretty good, usable dice. The sections of the onion make the cut pieces fall into little polyhedrons anyway. You save time and effort. And nobody is ever going to notice in most preparations. Like so:

gallery_1_295_20268.jpg

Sure, if you're doing this at a professional level, you need to be more serious. But this approach works just fine for me, the home cook.

Am I the only one who does it this way?

Ok ... I confess ... I ususally don't make the horizontal cuts either. Why bother? I opt for radial and then perpendicular to the board. If for some reason I *do* bother (notice I didn't say "for some *good* reason") with the horizontal cuts, I do them first, after the onion has been halved along the axis but before the vertical/radial cuts.

I'm such a slacker :smile:

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I tried the vertical cuts the way ChefCrash described. Worked very well. I did horizontals one one half and omitted on the second half. Not a very noticeable difference

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No one has ever taught me how I should dice an onion. It is amazing, to me, how much time and thought some of us have put into the task. I cut off both ends and then slice the onion in half from root to stem (usually). Then - while laying flat on the cutting board - I make a series of cuts each direction. The number of cuts is determined by the size of the onion and the recipe. If some of the pieces remaining are larger than I care to have - I cut them again. It's very imprecise, but it works. I am far more comfortable having the onion laying on a flat side so that I am always cutting downward on a cutting board.

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when you hold the onion half with the cut side facing you where you would begin making the horizontal cuts, turn the onion so the cut side is horizontal on your board. make your slices as close together as you want, and you do not need to make the horizontal cuts. you will get very small pieces. i came across 1 restaurant that used this technique, and i've never seen anyone else do it before, or since.

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I always did the horizontal cuts for many years. I started skipping them a couple of years ago, as I never seem to cut myself unless I was performing that particular cut. I got sick of it. I agree that the dice are fine for home cooking without that step.

Note that I have a visible shake to my hands that makes the horizontal cut somewhat more difficult to perform (Essential Tremor, inherited from my father).

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Something no one hit on yet.

gallery_39290_4300_25709.jpg

Hi,

Maybe this is why Jacques Pepin is sooooo slow cutting an onion!

Tim

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I learned to do the horizontal cuts, and they work fine for me. Of course I have to have a really sharp french knife when doing this.

Sometimes I'll cheat if I need less than half of an onion by cutting a few slices, neatly laying them flat and then dicing them up as described by someone else.

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I was taught horizontal then vertical when I was about ten, and it's second nature. In fact, it's a cooking chore I still enjoy, watching those pretty little cubes roll from my knife.

But to each his own -- whatever's easiest and most logical works.

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I realized I quit emphasizing the horizontal cut as I taught my kids to cut an onion. I'd already had too many trips to the ER at 10:00 pm, trying to explain to the social worker why my 8 year old was cutting an onion with an 8" chef's knife. But, at 16, the oldest can do some pretty mean horizontal cuts (on the onion, not herself), so my teaching was not unwarranted.

Me, I have the teen to cut the onions. I don't cheat, I just use cheap labour.

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My prep work for dinner last night included dicing up at least a half a dozen onions. I used ChefCrash's reverse method to make all the vertical cuts. I don't think I'll go back to the old way. Way better at getting the cuts closer to the root. I'm a convert.

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I only bother with horizontal cuts when I need a really fine dice. Otherwise, vertical cuts alone do the job quickly and reasonably well.

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Jay Francios suggested the alligator from Wm-Sonoma so I bought one today. It does a fine job as Jay said but for a two onion job; when the time for cleaning is included, the knife by either method would have been faster.

That said, the consistent size is cool beyond my knife skills.

I think now I will go investigate a french fry cutter. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

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I haven't cut an onion since this thread was started. Tonight I finally had occasion to chop a shallot - one tiny little shallot. I tried ChefCrash's method and, wow, that's really nice. I think I'm a convert too. Not that I have the accuracy to do it as quickly as he does, but it's faster than the frontwards way I learned originally.

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I have many times wondered why the hell super duper top chefs do the horisontal cut when chopping an onion. 

 

Jamie Oliver does it here (skip to 2:12 to see the cut I am talking about): 

 

Gordon Ramsey does it here (at 0:50): 

 

I never do it. I have tried, and I didn't notice any difference in the end result. It's USELESS, 

 

End of rant.


Edited by Mofassah (log)

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I do it too, when I want a dice. Does that make me a super duper too chef as well?

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Well, if you want small pieces, you need to cut horizontally.  If you don't want smaller pieces, then don't.  Are you saying it's useless to want small pieces?

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That's what I do when dicing an onion - didn't know there was another way.  How do you do it?


Edited by Shel_B (log)

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My point is that the dices doesn't get smaller if you do it than if you don't. 

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The slices near the core do get smaller with the horizontal cuts.  The slices in the middle; not so much.  It really depends on the shape of your onion.

 

tim

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