Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Do you cheat when you chop onions?


Fat Guy
 Share

Recommended Posts

Then cut across to get the nice dice.

gallery_19538_723_1348962.jpg

Woooooo... this picture made me wince :wink:

K8memphis, i can't believe you've photographed your lunacy!

Please, i hope no one else dices anything in their hands!!

Now now, I was posing for the picture, showing the dice, not cutting at the moment. And I've been doing it this way for decades. It works for me. Definitely don't do it if you can't handle it. I can get a miniscule perfect mince. However, I'm not alone in my lunacy.

I eat my peas with honey

I've done it all my life

It does taste kind of funny

But it keeps them on the knife.

by Anonymous

:laugh:

edited for spelling

Edited by K8memphis (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone tried the Zuni Cafe method?

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

And yeah, I always do the horizontal cuts too - a good, sharp knife and a few minutes practice and it'll be second nature. Really ain't that hard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. I first learned the technique from Caprial's ancient cooking show, Caprial's Cafe, I think. But if your knife isn't sharp and therefore might go where it shouldn't, the step should probably be skipped.

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find that the thinner (and sharper) the knife, the easier to make the horizontal cuts.

I use my santoku, and it is razor sharp. It takes one sweeping motion (not sawing back and forth, as that will make a mess,) to make the horizontal cuts. But doing them first would be easier.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As nearly as I can remember I've always done the horizontal cuts, without any ill affects. If it seems difficult or dangerous, I know it's time to take the knives in to the professionals. Onion dicing is the litmus test for the knife's ability to hold an edge.

Some time ago it occurred to me that it would be easier to do the horizontal cuts first - and it is - but the habit is so strong I rarely remember to do it that way. It does improve the stability, though.

And K8, your pix reminded me of my grandmother. I had been cooking with her for years before the girl scouts deemed us old enough to be taught how to handle a knife. It took all of my concentration to remember not to cut towards me when the troop leader or camp counselor was looking. :rolleyes:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...And K8, your pix reminded me of my grandmother.  I had been cooking with her for years before the girl scouts deemed us old enough to be taught how to handle a knife.  It took all of my concentration to remember not to cut towards me when the troop leader or camp counselor was looking. :rolleyes:

<high five> :biggrin:

I realized that I twirl the onion a bit too in my hand. And you don't have to complete each horizontal cut the first time across. The onion is already cross cut so you can cut part way across horizontally and then turn it around in your paw and cut that remaining lopsided section off horizontally.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I CAN NOT do that "professional" cut, I have tried and tried and I just can't get it right.

I was hoping someone else cuts onions like me but so far I haven't seen it described, please don't laugh! :unsure:

I slice off both ends, then with the ends pointing out to the sides I slice it down into about 6 rings.

I divide the rings into 2 piles with the smaller parts on the top of each pile. I then cut the pile with a left to right cut straight down along the length of the onion making the spaces between the slices as big or as little as I want them.

I then rotate the onion so that the slices are now up and down and then make more left to right slices on the length of the onion. The onion now falls apart in a perfect dice and I have no knicks on my palm and my fingertips are still intact.

Repeat with other pile.

Can you demonstrate this in July when we see you in Cleveland?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I CAN NOT do that "professional" cut, I have tried and tried and I just can't get it right.

I was hoping someone else cuts onions like me but so far I haven't seen it described, please don't laugh! :unsure:

I slice off both ends, then with the ends pointing out to the sides I slice it down into about 6 rings.

I divide the rings into 2 piles with the smaller parts on the top of each pile. I then cut the pile with a left to right cut straight down along the length of the onion making the spaces between the slices as big or as little as I want them.

I then rotate the onion so that the slices are now up and down and then make more left to right slices on the length of the onion. The onion now falls apart in a perfect dice and I have no knicks on my palm and my fingertips are still intact.

Repeat with other pile.

Can you demonstrate this in July when we see you in Cleveland?

Be sure to put bandaids on the shopping list!

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to upend the whole onion and pre-dice by cutting off the root end but leaving the stem end intact; do the vertical and horizontal by cutting from the root towards the stem and then rotating, and then 'slice' off the dice.

Now I halve, take out the root and then slice 'radially' ala Shalmanese and then cut. Once sauteed you can't tell, goes way faster.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have always done the horizontal cuts before the vertical. Seems to work for me.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After cutting the stem and the root off, stand the still whole onion on the root side and make those horizontal cuts vertically, then cut the onion in half and proceed with the other vertical cuts

I do this too and use to do this most of the time before I got my EdgePro. Now with super sharp edges it's easy to make the horizontals with the onion flat on the board. One pass and it's to the root.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do the cut across the rings and then cut longitudinally as if cutting pie. For my tastes, in addition to being much faster, it gets me close enough to an even dice. It is hard though to get a dice much smaller than an 1/8x1/8".

My knives are sharp and I still don't like doing the horizontal thing. I do however like some of the alternates presented here like french fry cutters and the veggy chopper, the 'alligator'. I think I'll try both.

Robert

Seattle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll try eliminating the horizontal cuts to see if it feels more efficient.

But if this step feels unsafe to you, I really think the problem is the blade. A chef's knife should glide through the onion with very little pressure ... so little that there's no chance of losing control if anything slips.

If your knife isn't sharp enough to do this, you may be able to eliminate the dangerous step in cutting an onion, but there are a lot of other cutting tasks that will be more dangerous than necessary.

You don't need a knife-grinding valet in your entourage ... just a decent knife and conscentious maintenance with a steel.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ummmmm, since when is eliminating the horizontal cuts "cheating".....?

That's the only way I've ever done it, at least routinely. Thank you FG for validating my so-called technique.

Occasionally, very occasionally, when I'm channeling Julia Child or Lidia Bastianich, I'll try the horizontal cut thing. Scary, scary, scary, time-consuming and in my mind, doesn't produce much better size pieces than the "cheaters" way.

And yes, my knives are very sharp, ask the ER tech who put 6 stitches in my left thumb on Thursday night. :shock:

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I the only one who does wedge cuts? Instead of cutting straight down, I cut towards the centre of the onion, like spokes on a wheel. Then I can get a uniform, fine dice without ever having to draw the knife towards me.

Thats how I have been doing it for years. Only 1 set of cuts and it works perfectly

www.azurerestaurant.ca

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Count me among those who generally dispense with the horizontal cuts. The only time I do it the "real" way is when I need a very fine dice and the cooking time is short (that is, they won't be breaking down over time).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would agree that the horizontal cuts aren't really necessary for many applications, but as others have said they really aren't very hard to do safely and quickly. A sharp knife makes them easier, faster, and more precise, but even with an only decently sharp knife I have no problems with them. I use a slicing motion, sort of like how you would thinly slice charcuterie or sushi; cut diagonally using the length of the blade, drawing the blade either towards or away from you while simutaneously cutting towards the root end. Just expect to lose the last half-inch or so of your onion.

I'm suprised so many people mention cutting off the root end. I used to do this all the time, but I learned it makes a big difference in helping keep the onion together while you make the cuts. I would never cut the root end off for dice. I also like to use mainly the tip for the vertical cuts. The knife starts at a high angle. 70-80 degrees the tip goes in near the root end and plunges down into the onion and I draw the knife towards me.

The tip hits the board before it comes out of the onion, and I pull it through to finish the cut.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think I'd ever heard of the "professional" method before.

My method is straightforward and can be easily adjusted for size of dice required.

1. Cut off root and stem ends.

2. Slice in half from pole to pole and remove peel.

3. Lay halves cut side down and cut into half-rings, as thick or as thin as desired. Keep slices of rings together.

4. Starting at the bottom, cut wedges from the edge towards the center of the onion perpendicular to the ring cuts. Again, these cuts can be made as fine or as coarse as desired.

This won't make perfectly uniform pieces, as they'll be thicker at the outside than towards the center, but it's never been an issue for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've learned the "professional" technique but in a real kitchen the sous chef showed me a technique that was faster but just as good.

1. After removing outer skin, cut from root to stem.

2. Slice half moons in even thicknesss

3. Lay down a stack of half moons and cut so that the diced pieces are the size you want. This makes it really quick since with practice slicing half moons went really quick.

The professional technique really works well with shallots. Again, when I was doing large quantities, say a gallon of shallots, I was told to just chop them as the bitterness that comes from just chopping, wouldn't be noticed in the way they were being used.

Jeff

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Fat Guy that you can eliminate the horizontal at home. My bigger question is" What are those brown discolorations on Fat Guy's knife? Is that just lighting or is there a story behind that???

-Mark-

---------------------------------------------------------

"If you don't want to use butter, add cream."

Julia Child

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic was covered fairly recently, if inspired by a different question: Cutting an Onion. In Post 23 I share a trick I learned from a book--simpler to perform than explain, though I don't always use it. It works best if you have a paring knife with a very thin blade.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alton Brown is the first one I've seen a few years ago to dispense of the horizontal cuts. He was making 'Radial' cuts from tip to root in the onion half and then cutting perpendicular crosswise for a dice. This way you cut the onion into crescents first (but keep the pieces attached at the root) and this makes the dice better than if you just cut straight down and then across. I use that all the time to cut my onions...and it's not cheating :smile:.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm suprised so many people mention cutting off the root end. I used to do this all the time, but I learned it makes a big difference in helping keep the onion together while you make the cuts.

True ... makes the whole process easier and safer. the root stays attached til the last chop.

I do cut off of the blossom end before peeling. seems to help.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...