Onions – sweet transformations

Posted on 2 min read

Onions are super versatile vegetables that are widely cultivated. There are many species that fall into this category but people usually think of a bulb when they imagine the onion. And not without a reason. The yellow onion is the most commonly known variety – bulb onion is the most important species of the Allium genus among growers all over the world. 

The one and only

If there is one ingredient that is surely to be in your dish (we bet!) it is most likely the onion. In one disguise or another, this vegetable usually finds its way to land on your plate. Why is it that cooks love it so much and add it everywhere? Papery skin, juicy flesh, pungent flavour that becomes sweet when cooked for a long time.

If that’s not the reason for loving onions then what? True that many people love such sweet transformations but it’s not the whole truth. There are many dishes out there that utilise raw onions and their sharpness. One of the classic side dishes is onion ring salad. It’s a quick-to-make appetizer that you can see in many cuisines around the globe: raw onions are eaten by people in India, Russia, Georgia, Turkey.

Onion ring salad around the world

The Indian version for instance is basically thinly sliced onion rings with lemon juice or vinegar, chili flakes, chaat masala (notorious spice blend), mint or coriander leaves and salt. All ingredients are simply mixed and served immediately with meats, curry, or grilled snacks.

The Turkish version makes the same dish but with the addition of sumac (blended dried fruits of one of the plants of Rhus genus; it gives tangy lemony flavour) and pomegranate molasses which adds a little sourness and sweetness to the onions. Russians on the other hand could add extra black pepper, cilantro and olive oil. 

The secret weapon

One of the secrets that tames the pungency of the onion is the hot water. Some swear by it. Adding just a little to cover the freshly sliced onions will cut the edges so to say. This is probably a well-known trick.

But there is another secret weapon. The salad dressing. It doesn’t matter if you make it from scratch or use a store-bought, all you need to do is to soak some onions in it while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

The acidity of the dressing will play into hands and reduce the heat of the raw onions. Give it a try next time and you won’t be disappointed. And even if you are, you can always slowly caramelise your onions for a long time and then make yourself a French onion grilled cheese sandwich. But that’s a whole other story.

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