How To Chop An Onion

Here is a description - and a gif - of the most basic skill in cooking...

I should do. I’ve just done a calculation of the possible number of onions I have chopped in my life. It’s a lot of onions…

I have an old cookery text book (published in 1972) that shows a graphic of how to chop an onion. I bought the book on the basis of that diagram. In those early days of my culinary experience – text books were the only way for an aspiring cook to learn.

For those few in the know, chopping an onion was rather like performing a magic trick for the amusement and delight of friends. Indeed, there is a kind of magic in the way the onion dices itself – nature and man’s ingenuity cooperating in a sublime and masterful sleight of hand. Voila! Chopped onion.

I have changed the order from the original diagram. I felt that the horizontal cut was the most difficult and should be executed first – whilst the onion is as stable as possible.

There are two other critical factors:

  • Do not chop off the onion root and do not chop into it. It holds all the segments together.
  • You must use a sharp knife. Even still, do not force or push the knife – allow it to slice itself using only the sharpness of the blade. AND DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN THE WAY OF THE KNIFE! If you do not have a very sharp knife I would suggest not making the horizontal cut – the onion still ends up chopped.



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